Signs of PCP Abuse
What Are the Effects of PCP?
The drug was originally synthesized and released for clinic use as a general anesthetic. However, the signs of PCP abuse like extreme agitation led to a government ban for any but veterinary use in the 1960s. It was completely banned in the US in 1978, and it’s no longer manufactured here outside of research facilities. Phencyclidine is classed as a Schedule II dissociative anesthetic, but it’s often grouped with hallucinogenic drugs. It went underground with many experimental hallucinogens in the late 60s, and recreational use peaked in the late 70s. PCP emerged again in the early 2000s, and it remains as dangerous as ever.
It’s usually snorted, mixed with a liquid and passed around at clubs and parties or mixed with tobacco or marijuana and smoked. The same PCP effects that led to a withdrawal from clinical use are the effects that are prized by those looking for a PCP high. When an individual is showing PCP abuse symptoms, it’s time to seek out a PCP addiction treatment center in Jacksonville, FL.
Infrequent and mild PCP users will experience:
- Disassociation from the immediate environment
- Euphoria and feelings of well-being
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
With long-term, regular use or high dosages, the experience is more intense. Because it’s an anesthetic, abuse is accompanied by numbness and an inability to feel pain. PCP is often associated with violent, erratic behavior and feats of nearly superhuman strength. The volatility and high rate of injury or death among users is the main source for its reputation and the perception of those taking the drug as violent and out of control. A PCP detox center will keep individuals safe as they begin to rid their system of this dangerous substance.
Are There Detectable Signs of PCP Abuse?
Not all people abusing PCP act erratic or violent. Many people simply appear drunk at first because of the onset of a high causes slurred speech and lack of coordination. Symptoms of PCP abuse, when viewed from the outside, can range from watching someone sit and stare blankly to witnessing sudden bursts of energy or impulsive behavior. Erratic behavior is especially apparent in confrontational settings, and that contributes to an escalation of violence.
This isn’t usually a drug that someone does for a night at the club. Use often occurs in binges that last several days at a time. These are called “runs”. During a PCP run, the user will smoke or snort every few hours and avoid eating or sleeping. An average run is usually followed by a crash that lasts for a day or two if the user manages to avoid arrest, injury, or death.
There’s no standard dosage or uniform formulation of the drug outside of a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, but a mild dose is measured between one and five milligrams. On average, it takes about 15 minutes for the effects to hit, but the drug can be felt in as little as two minutes when it’s smoked. The high lasts for about four to eight hours but can linger for up to 48 hours. Because PCP is often used with alcohol and other drugs, it’s difficult to isolate the behaviors or signs of use to PCP alone. It can also pass and sell as other drugs like LSD and ecstasy, even though it isn’t.
The Side Effects of PCP
Using phencyclidine changes the way the brain interprets and reacts to outside stimuli like pain. Symptoms of PCP use and the effects it has on the body and brain are related to the level and frequency of abuse. At lower doses, there may be some confusion and difficulty focusing on conversations or the surrounding environment. Numbness in the arms and legs leads to awkward movements and an exaggerated stride while walking. About 20 percent of MDMA sold today is actually PCP.
Users have a much higher pain threshold, which allows the belief that they can perform impossible feats like leaping from buildings or moving cars. They seem to have extraordinary strength, speed, and agility, and this leads to risky behavior that results in injury or death. In fact, most hospitalizations contributed to PCP are due to accidental injury. There’s also a high rate of suicide and homicide associated with PCP abuse.
With heavy use, delusions are common. There’s also a tendency to hallucinate or hear sounds that no one else can hear. Much of the hearsay and misconception about the effects of LSD use in the media and depictions in movies or on TV tend to stem from PCP instead.
Short-Term PCP effects
If PCP abuse occurs occasionally at low doses, there are no lasting effects. The chances of addiction or dependence are low. That doesn’t lessen the danger of using PCP since the possibility of injury or death remains high due to lowered inhibitions and the inability to feel pain. Most of the false perceptions of reality and detachment wear off soon after the drug is out of the system.
Long-Term Effects of PCP Use
Unlike opioids and other drugs that affect one portion of the brain, phencyclidine attacks several different areas of the brain. The main region affected is the glutamate neurotransmitters responsible for controlling pain response and regulating emotions. It also binds to receptors in the pleasure center of the brain and interferes with dopamine production. Heavy or long-term use impairs the brain’s ability to produce, regulate, and release endorphins on its own.
While there’s no evidence that PCP use causes mental health problems, it can trigger or exacerbate symptoms in those who already have mental health or emotional stability issues. Lingering problems with anxiety, depression, and paranoia aren’t uncommon. There can be lasting memory problems and an inability to focus or concentrate for several days after. Habitual use also leads to flashbacks in some abusers. Some may also experience continuous, intermittent auditory and visual hallucinations years after the drugs are out of the system.
Treatment After Showing Signs of PCP Abuse
PCP addiction is a craving for the experience of using. This often accompanies a tolerance that builds during heavy or long-term use. Addiction treatment should focus on managing symptoms while the brain and body detoxify. It should also deal with PCP side effects, and include any necessary dual diagnosis treatment. This is best under medical supervision in an addiction treatment program. Such programs allow those with substance use disorders to detoxify and recover in a safe environment. They also provide mental health support to deal with underlying issues. To begin treatment after showing signs of PCP abuse, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery by calling 866.957.4960.