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How to Help a PCP Addict

Table of Contents

What is PCP?

PCP, or phencyclidine – commonly called “angel dust” – was developed in the 1950s as an intravenously administered anesthetic. PCP is no longer approved for medical use, and is now only found on the illicit market. Most commonly, the street drug form of PCP is a white, crystal-like powder that dissolves easily in liquid.

PCP can be ingested in multiple ways. Users may:

  • Take it in pill form.
  • Apply it to either marijuana or tobacco, or to the inside of rolling paper.
  • Snort it as as a powder.

Common effects of PCP include agitation, dissociation (feeling of separation) from self, and feelings of invulnerability. Long term and large doses of the drug in a short amount of time can lead to increased paranoia, mood problems, kidney and liver damage, and death (usually as a result of impulsive decisions made while under the influence of the drug, accidental injury or suicide). PCP use is extremely harmful, but treatment for PCP addiction is available.

Help for PCP addicts

Use of PCP can lead to an array of unpleasant and harmful effects for the user, which can include violent behavior, hallucinations, stupor, dangerous drops in blood pressure, shock, and coma, among others. Someone who is using PCP compulsively may need treatment to avoid the harmful consequences associated with continued use.

No single treatment approach works for everyone, so each person seeking treatment should consider the benefits of both inpatient, round-the-clock care, as well as treatment via outpatient settings that offer more flexibility for those that cannot take time away from family or work obligations.

Either avenue of treatment should include comprehensive care options – offering therapy, medication, and mental health assessment – as this approach to treatment often results in better long-term outcomes.

Receive 24/7 text support at your convenience with American Addiction Centers. Our team is well prepared to advise on all things treatment and help you find the care you need. We’ve helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you too.

How to talk to a Loved One About Treatment

In 2014 nearly 1.2 million people aged 12 or older were current users of hallucinogens like PCP. If you know or suspect that someone you care about is addicted to PCP and would benefit from professional help, you can encourage them to regain control of their lives by entering treatment. Resources like the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) are available to help you prepare for a conversation with a PCP addict.

If your loved one is ready to begin their process to recovery, give us a call today at . All calls are confidential. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about treatment plans, options, cost, and available facilities.

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Treatment for PCP Addiction

Prior to embarking upon the treatment period for PCP abuse, the user will need to complete a period of detoxification from the drug. As a potent dissociative, if used for a long duration, PCP can have pervasive mental and physical health effects. A dependent individual will benefit from the safety and supervision afforded in a structured detox situation–allowing their beleaguered systems to clear the presence and influence of PCP gradually, and mitigating the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal, if present.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs exist for treatment of PCP addiction; choosing the method of treatment will be up to the addict and his loved ones.

  • Inpatient treatment is often recommended for users who use uncontrollably and face many triggers to use at home. The around-the-clock care removes the user from the normal temptations to use in order to focus completely on getting sober and learning the skills to live in recovery.
  • Outpatient programs offer many of the features of inpatient care but allow the user to continue living at home and fulfilling everyday obligations, such as work. The drawbacks are that the patient will have to attempt to navigate recovery while still facing the temptations of his normal environment.

During the course of both inpatient and outpatient treatment the patient will participate in talk therapy–both individual and group; family and friends may also be invited to help addicts feel supported in their recovery.

Post treatment, various aftercare measures – including long-term participation at 12-step meetings – can help those in recovery to remain grounded in his or her commitment to sobriety. Former substance abusers may find success in creating new habits to replace the old behaviors and making a commitment to finding health and wellness through proper nutrition, exercise, and mending relationships damaged during days of drug use.

Sober living houses, which offer those in recovery a place to focus on continued sobriety while adjusting back to life, are also an option.

To learn about the varying types of treatment options that can save your life or the life of someone you love, call and speak to a treatment advisor today.

Is PCP Addictive?

PCP is considered a drug with a number of unusual effects, including hallucination and dissociation. Consequences of such effects can include:

  • Fearful out-of-body experiences.
  • Feelings of invincibility.
  • Perceived power over others.
  • Paranoia.
  • Violence.

Repeated use of PCP, even recreationally, can have severe psychological impact. Aside from the typical dissociative effects, PCP can cause even more alarming effects. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, users of PCP can become violent, suicidal, and experience symptoms of psychosis similar to those diagnosed with schizophrenia–such as delusions and paranoid thinking.

While withdrawal symptoms for PCP have not been established in humans, the “high” that the drug provides can help to cultivate the compulsion to use over and over–even when PCP has negatively impacted the user’s life. The official substance abuse diagnosis in cases such as these would be termed phencyclidine use disorder.

What Are the Signs of PCP addiction?

People under the active influence of PCP use may exhibit some of the mental and behavioral signs and symptoms listed above, and may act out in an extremely aggressive or violent manner. They may also appear to be very disoriented, delirious or “out of it.” Other signs to look out for include:

  • Irritability.
  • Suspicious attitude.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Reacting to delusions.
  • Grandiosity.
  • Euphoria.
  • Hypersensitivity to sound.
  • Memory loss.
  • Suicidal ideation.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

Am I Addicted to PCP?

If you’re worried about your use of PCP, it’s likely time to seek treatment. For those actively using PCP, signs of dependence may include:

  • An increased need for frequency or amount of PCP to achieve a desired effect.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to decrease or eliminate use.
  • Inability to maintain daily life expectations such as a job or family obligations.
  • Using PCP in situations that are hazardous, like driving.
  • Development of tolerance (needing more and more to induce the same effects).

If you recognize the above signs in yourself, help is available. Call for free at to learn more about how to take your life back from the hold of PCP. You can also contact free narcotics and drug abuse hotline numbers for addiction help.

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Amanda Lautieri is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert for DrugAbuse.com. She holds a bachelor's degree and has reviewed thousands of medical articles on substance abuse and addiction.
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