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The Effects of PCP Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. What Is PCP?
  3. Short-Term Effects of PCP
  4. Long-Term Effects of PCP
  5. Is PCP Harmful?
  6. PCP Dependence
  7. PCP Addiction Treatment


What Is PCP?

PCP is the commonly used abbreviation for the substance phencyclidine.

PCP addiction doesn't have to control your life. Call 1-888-747-7155 and get help finding treatment today.

PCP is found in many forms including:

  • White powder.
  • Crystal.
  • Capsules.
  • Tablets.
  • Liquid.

The tablets are frequently dyed with coloring and mixed with other substances with and without being indicated to the potential user.

The various forms can be swallowed, snorted, or smoked either alone or in combination with other drugs like tobacco, marijuana, and MDMA.

Where Did PCP Come From?

The history of this substance dates back to the 1920s when it was initially developed. In the 1950s, PCP was used as an intravenous anesthetic used during surgeries. Due to a number of unwanted side effects with its intended purpose, it is no longer used in a medical setting and only rarely in a veterinary setting. Currently, the drug is only manufactured in small amounts for research and testing, while the majority of the drug is manufactured illegally.

Learn more at our article, PCP History and Statistics.

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Short-Term Effects of PCP

The short-term effects of PCP vary depending on the method of exposure and the dosage amount. When the drug is smoked, the effects will begin in as few as 2 minutes.

Swallowing the drug slows the absorption and results in the effects beginning in 30 – 60 minutes.

In either case, the effects may last for as few as 4 hours and as many as 48 hours depending on the amount used.

PCP is classified as a hallucinogen meaning that it is known to produce visual and auditory distortions and perceptual changes. Additionally, PCP has a dissociative effect to the user, which means that one may feel detached from themselves or the world around them. While under the influence of PCP, someone might feel like they are a different person living a different life.

Effects of PCP use are typically broken into low dose and high dose effects.

A low dose of PCP between 1 and 5 mg will lead to symptoms including:

  • Numbness and relaxation.
  • A sense of well-being and euphoria.
  • Problems concentrating.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Loss of motor coordination.
  • Misperceptions of abilities including strength, speed, and invulnerability.
  • Odd, erratic, or unexpected behaviors.

Someone witnessing the effects of PCP use may observe the person staring blankly or showing rapid eye movements. In some cases, the person using PCP will be perfectly still for long periods without responding to stimulation.

A higher dose of PCP can lead to other effects including:

  • Seeing things that are not present.
  • Hearing things that are not there.
  • Delusions of grandeur with inflated sense of importance.
  • Higher blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Raised body temperature.
  • Anxiety, panic, and feeling extreme worry.

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Long-Term Effects of PCP

With excessive use of PCP over an extended period of time, the negative effects of PCP become less temporary and more permanent.

They can begin negatively impacting the mental and physical health of the PCP user. These effects include:


  • Impaired memory.
  • Thinking problems and impaired decision-making abilities.
  • Speech problems.
  • Severe depression with suicidal thoughts.
  • Higher anxiety, paranoia, and isolation.
  • Extreme weight loss.
  • Dissociative symptoms like flashbacks.
  • Continuous hallucinations and delusional thinking even when not using the substance.

These long-term effects can be quite dangerous since they may last for a year following last use of PCP.
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Is PCP Harmful?

While intoxicated by PCP, people are more likely to act aggressively or violently against others or themselves.

PCP has developed a very negative reputation based on reports of what can happen to those under the influence of the drug. While intoxicated by PCP, people are more likely to act aggressively or violently against others or themselves. This will be more common for people with a history of mental health issues.

People using PCP often overestimate their abilities, which can lead to accidental injuries and death. For example, someone will think they can cross a street quickly enough to avoid the traffic, only to be hit by a car.

While using PCP, people may misinterpret and distort calm situations as confrontational and respond with violence, and since they are perceiving pain inaccurately, the violence could end with serious physical injuries.

Another level of danger from PCP is that the substance is easily mixed with other drugs like marijuana or tobacco. In a powder form, the PCP can be sprinkled on marijuana or tobacco and smoked. Other times, a cigarette can be dipped into liquid PCP to receive the effects.

Some people intend to buy the drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy, but are given pills that combine PCP and other substances including ketamine, caffeine, or methamphetamine.
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PCP Dependence

PCP is an addictive substance. People that use the PCP consistently will begin craving the drug and will likely engage in risky, dangerous, or illegal behaviors to acquire and use more of the substance.

As well as addiction, dependency becomes an issue with extended PCP use. The user’s body will become used to the effects of the drug and will not be able to function properly without it.

PCP Addiction Treatment

There are a number of options that can benefit someone addicted to PCP. Seeking professional advice is always the appropriate course of action if you, or someone you know, is struggling with the influence of PCP.

Depending on your situation, a range of treatments can be helpful including:


  • Inpatient detoxification or rehabilitation services. This setting will mostly focus on removing the substance from your body and allowing you to focus all of your resources towards recovery. A combination of individual and group therapies will aid in this process. During your stay, you may see a doctor that can prescribe helpful medication to manage withdrawal symptoms to increase your chance of success.
  • Outpatient drug and alcohol or mental health treatment. If the inpatient path is not best for you, you can find benefit in the outpatient setting. As opposed to inpatient, where you will stay at the treatment facility, outpatient services permit you to sleep at home. Programs will vary with options ranging from intensive, all-day programs to weekly hour-long appointments.

Whatever your situation, be sure to follow the treatment recommendations of the professionals to help ensure that you get the level of care that fits with your needs. To get the assistance necessary to improve your life, call 1-888-747-7155 for more information.



Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.
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