PCP, short for phencyclidine, is a type of dissociative anesthetic drug that medical professionals developed in the 1950s for use as an intravenous anesthetic, but soon rejected it too, due to its side effects. Found in various forms, including powder, pill or liquid, PCP alters a person’s perception and makes them have out-of-body experiences. The side effects can vary depending on the quantity consumed. Users can experience a range of physical and psychological effects, many of which are dose-dependent; with dangerous effects associated with higher doses.
Following are some of the side effects of PCP (low to moderate doses):
- Trance-like state
- Dissociation from environment
- Slurred speech
- Dilated pupils
- Involuntary muscle movements
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
Following are some of the side effects of PCP (high doses):
- Memory loss
- Extreme panic
- Exaggerated strength
- No reaction to pain
Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature increasing to dangerous levels
Overdosing on the drug can also result in accidental death due to the psychological effects caused by it. The user can even feel invincible as it deadens the sensation of pain. The aggressive behavior, combined with an increased strength, can even be quite dangerous to those around such a person. In addition, abusing the drug can even lead to death due to a person fatally injuring himself/herself in an accident, or paranoia or hallucinations driving the user to commit suicide. Even violent muscle contractions are a common side effect and can fracture the user’s bones and cause muscle breakdown around the kidneys.
When mixed with other addictive substances, such as alcohol, the drug can cause respiratory distress and lead to coma or death. These side effects make PCP one of the most dangerous drugs, not just for the people abusing the drug, but for those around them as well.
Not only is PCP dangerous for use, it is highly addictive too. Like many drugs, it targets the reward center of the brain, flooding it with dopamine and causing people to experience a euphoric high. The nature of the reward system of our brain is such that it is hardwired to repeat pleasurable behaviors. Due to this, people who use the drug even once develop a dependence on it to enjoy the effects repeatedly. This is what leads them to PCP abuse and PCP addiction.
The symptoms of addiction to this drug are noticeable when the user develops a compulsive need to seek out the drug, often at the expense of everything else. PCP addiction is a disease and can be debilitating or fatal if left untreated.
Following are some of the long-term health effects of PCP addiction:
- Speech problems
- Memory loss
- Weight loss
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
Consuming very high doses of PCP can lead to overdose and produce other unpredictable and dangerous effects, including stroke, seizures, respiratory failure, coma and even death. The drug can also stay in the body long after a person stops using it. This can cause flashbacks or hallucinations after years of consumption of the drug. Owing to its unpredictable and dangerous side effects, the earlier one seeks treatment for its addiction, the better it is for him/her, the loved ones and those around.
Treatment for PCP addiction
For someone seeking treatment for PCP addiction, a comprehensive treatment that combines medically-supervised detox and intense psychotherapies is recommended. At PCP rehab centers, the recovering individual undergoes medical detox that helps to remove the drug from his/her body gradually and reduces drug dependency. A medically-assisted detox also helps control the withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to dangerous.
Following are some of the withdrawal symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Speech problems
- Low energy
Once a person gets through the detoxification treatment, the next step in treatment is therapy. In addition to finding out the root cause of addiction, fight cravings and identifying triggers, therapy teaches the recovering individual the necessary life skills to live a drug-free life.
Furthermore, the treatment should include taking care of any co-occurring illnesses that the recovering individual may have, to avoid any potential relapse. When patients religiously follow all recommended steps of the treatment, they have a strong chance at a lasting recovery.