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PCP Abuse Symptoms, Side Effects, and Addiction Treatment


What Is PCP?

PCP is phencyclidine. Similar to ketamine, it is a dissociative anesthetic that causes:

  • Hallucinations.
  • Out-of-body experiences.
  • Delusions.
  • Irrationality.

The DEA has PCP listed as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe dependence (psychological or physical).

PCP is usually sold as a white powder, although colors can range from dark brown to white. The whiter it is, the purer it usually is. The brown coloration comes from the manufacturing process; it’s usually the result of unreacted chemicals, which can cause severe side effects.

Signs and Symptoms of PCP Use

Signs of PCP use can include the following:

  • Euphoria.
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain.
  • Feelings of super strength.
  • Sense of invulnerability.
  • Apathy.

Hallucinations typically accompany PCP use, along with distortions of a person’s sense of time and being. In some cases, a person’s sense of self can be destroyed. Naturally, confusion abounds and logic is not present. With this loss of the self, the user may feel intense alienation—as though the world and the people in it make no sense—as well as feelings of depression.

In some cases, people may suffer from delusions that they are celebrities or dignitaries. They may also suddenly feel overwhelmingly scared of death.

Side Effects of PCP Abuse


The effects of PCP abuse vary widely depending on the amount of the drug that has been ingested. It’s nearly always smoked, which makes dose management very hard.

  • Low doses are characterized by numbness in the hands and toes, as well as general drunken-like behavior.
  • Moderate doses produce partial or full anesthesia, where the person cannot move their limbs or any part of their bodies.
  • High doses have the potential to cause convulsions and even death.

When PCP is mixed with alcohol or benzodiazepines, the drug can cause severe respiratory depression, leading to coma and even death. Because PCP reduces a person’s capacity to think rationally, other drugs are often ingested.

PCP use is also associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Tolerance and Addiction

Sustained PCP abuse can lead to tolerance and addiction. As a person takes more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects, the risks of long-term damage are heightened. It has been reported to cause psychosis in persons suffering from schizophrenia, as well as chronic PCP users.

Memory loss is common, and loss of concentration and a rejection of boundaries are almost normal with continued PCP abuse.

Ultimately, the drug can cause a complete breakdown of a person’s life.

PCP Statistics

  • In 2015, an estimated 1.2 million people aged 12 and older were current users of hallucinogens—including PCP.1
  • PCP-related emergency room visits increased by 400% between 2005 and 2011, with increases seen in both genders.2

To learn more, visit our page, PCP History and Statistics.

Teen PCP Abuse

PCP was a precautionary drug tale in the 1990s, so an entire generation grew up without wanting to risk its use. However, there has been a recent surge of PCP use among teens and young adults, with “wet” or “embalming fluid” being the most common method of use. In 2015, an estimated 1.4% of high school seniors reported using PCP in the past year.3

Learn about how to help a teen drug addict.

PCP Abuse Treatment Types


The effects of PCP abuse and addiction are wide-ranging. However, treatment is available, and PCP users tend to respond well to addiction treatment.

The first step of the process will be to safely detox from the drug. Because PCP withdrawal can induce certain symptoms which can be dangerous such as seizures, detoxing under medical supervision is important. An inpatient rehab center can provide a safe and supervised environment in which to detox. If a patient is hospitalized for PCP intoxication, benzodiazepines such as Valium may be used as a treatment option for sedation or for the prevention of seizures.

Once the withdrawal process is complete, addiction treatment therapy will start, either in an inpatient rehab center or as part of an outpatient treatment program.

Ongoing recovery options include sober living houses, 12-step programs, and continuing therapy. Treatment and aftercare will provide the skills and support someone in recovery needs to live a life of sobriety and avoid relapse.

Getting your loved one to a PCP rehab center can be hard—this is why professional interventionists are used. If your loved one has been abusing PCP for a long time, it is usually worth hiring a professional to organize the intervention, as it can be planned and timed for maximum effect.

Find Phencyclidine Abuse Treatment Programs

The Council on Drug Abuse offers some great resources on PCP use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has a list of facts about PCP, LSD, and other hallucinogens.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted facilities across the country. To learn more about rehab programs and phencyclidine abuse treatment options, please contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at .

PCP Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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