The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes PCP as a serious and illegal hallucinogen that started as a clinical sedative and anesthetic, but was discontinued and made illegal upon discovery of its extremely negative and unpredictable effects. In its pure chemical form, PCP is a snortable white powder, but it can easily be packaged in liquid or pill form. When it is smoked it is often added to plants such as marijuana or tobacco. Because of its sedative nature, mixing PCP with alcohol can lead to overdose and coma. It has a strong effect on the user’s perception of pain and can convince them they are indestructible. This sort of thinking makes PCP users a deadly danger to themselves and others. Several of its effects are similar to those suffering from schizophrenia including paranoid delusions, visual hallucinations, illogical thought patterns and dissociation from time and place.
Alcohol and PCP Facts:
- PCP and alcohol amplify one another’s effects
- PCP has a distinct chemical taste
- Alcohol is a depressant and PCP is a sedative, a dangerous combination
- PCP can cause psychosis
- Angel dust
- Rocket fuel
- Peace pill
- and many others
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Alcohol and PCP are very different drugs that, when combined produce unpredictable effects. According to the Acadiana Addiction Center, use of PCP is commonly found alongside alcohol abuse and several psychological disorders. PCP causes hallucinations, which when combined with alcohol can lead to suicidal thoughts. GoodDrugsGuide.com, a drug addiction resource geared towards connecting with addicts rather than preaching at them, explains that the delusional thoughts of PCP combined with the inhibition of alcohol combine to create a user who is highly inclined to hurt themselves. There are several signs that someone is using these drugs together.
Signs of Concurrent Alcohol and PCP Abuse:
- Slurred speech
- Stuttered speech
- Delusional thoughts (similar to schizophrenia)
- Erratic behavior
- High anxiety
- Weight loss
- Rapid eye movement or eyes rolled to the back of the head
- Vacant stare
(Compiled from the NIDA website, AcadianaAddiction.com, the National Highway Safety Administration fact sheets, and the Illinois Department of Human Services.)
Combined Effects of Abuse
In powdered form, PCP is dissolvable in many liquids, including alcoholic drinks. PCP and alcohol have many different immediate effects as well as longer-term effects. Aside from the visual hallucinations, PCP has several notable physical effects.
Concurrent Alcohol and PCP Problems:
- Increased heart rate in moderate doses, but decreased at high concentrations
- Violent or suicidal behavior
- Numbness or ignoring of pain
- Trouble speaking and learning
- Liver infection
(Compiled from the NIDA website, Drugs.com, and the National Highway Safety Administration fact sheets.)
Treatment for Co-occurring Addiction
12-step education, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and recreational therapy are effective means of dealing with many drug addictions, including alcohol and PCP. However, the NIDA explains that there are no medically validated treatments developed exclusively for PCP overdose and addiction. Due to the depression and extreme mood swings associated with its withdrawal, Drugs.com recommends appropriate rehab centers capable of maintaining a peaceful environment and oversight of the addict.
12-step education, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and recreational therapy are effective means of dealing with many drug addictions, including alcohol and PCP.
Statistics for Alcohol and PCP
- Consistently, about 1 percent of high school seniors use PCP. The Monitoring the Future Study gauges this every year.
- PCP has been in illegal use since the 1960s.
- Immediate to five minute onset when smoked or injected
- 30-minute onset when snorted or swallowed.
- Between a 4 to 6 hour high, but can last a full 24.
- The CDC records over 80,000 alcohol related deaths each year, and people aged 12 to 20 account for 11 percent of the consumption in the U.S.
- The CDC also reports that adults over 26 comprise 70 percent of incidents involving alcohol abuse.
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health finds that drinkers under 15 are 5 times more likely to develop dependence.
- The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality finds that 10 percent of American parents abuse alcohol in the presence of their children.
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism counts about 17 million Americans who abuse it.
Teen Drinking and PCP Abuse
Alcohol is one of the most widely abused drugs by teenagers. PCP is often dissolved into or taken alongside alcohol. Drugs.com maintains that when teens use drugs like PCP, their hormonal levels are thrown out of balance. This can adversely affect cognitive development. According to a publication available on the Justice Department’s website, over 200,000 people aged 12 to 20 have at least tried PCP once in their lives.
Resources, Articles and More Information
Info and Articles:
- The Narcotics Anonymous website.
- The Alcoholics Anonymous website.
- The NIDA fact sheet for hallucinogens
- Drugs.com’s PCP page.