What is PCP?
- PCP, or phencyclidine (also known as Angel Dust), is a dissociative anesthetic first synthesized in 1926 and then tested after WWII as a surgical anesthetic.
- PCP is classified as a “dissociative anesthetic.” It is has a similar method of action as ketamine, both working as NMDA receptor antagonists. NMDA receptor antagonists decrease the effects of glutamate, a chemical in the brain that facilitates communication between the brain and body.
- PCP is a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, meaning that unauthorized possession is illegal in all 50 states.
- A large portion of the PCP on the streets is smuggled into the USA through Mexico, with the remainder being produced domestically in clandestine laboratories in the USA (especially Southern California).
How is PCP used?
- PCP can come in two forms, a freebase oil that can be dissolved in solution or soaked on plant material, or a hydrochloride crystalline salt form.
- PCP as a freebase can be smoked, dissolved in alcohol, or ingested orally.
- PCP as a salt (powder) can be smoked, snorted, injected, and ingested orally.
- Smoking has historically been the most common route of administration. PCP is typically either smoked in a freebase pipe, or via a cigarette or joint that has been dipped into ether with PCP dissolved into it and dried.
What are the effects?
- Effects vary greatly by user and dosage, but can range from a heavy body and mental high similar to other dissociatives to full blown hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality.
- PCP can interfere with object recognition, making familiar places and things seem strange. It can also distort music at higher doses.
- PCP can cause feelings of calm, wellbeing, apathy, and/or dissociation. It can also cause disorganized thinking.
- General effects tend to come on quickly, depending on route of administration (smoking will be faster and more intense than snorting, for example). PCP tends to take around 2-20 minutes to come on, gradually peaking after 1-2 hours, plateauing for 2 hours, and then coming down fully over the course of 24 hours. This means that residual effects can be felt for 24 hours afterward returning to baseline, lending to either an “afterglow” or hangover.
- PCP can be extremely powerful, with the potential to cause delirious states and very realistic, life-like hallucinations. It’s dosed in the low milligrams, making it easy to overdo. Go very slowly when dosing – especially if you’re smoking – to avoid accidentally climbing out of your comfort zone.
- PCP can sometimes cause seizures, ego death, disturbing hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and delusional thought patterns. PCP can also cause acute amnesia that can cover entire days. The risk of these effects will be higher for individuals who have a personal or family history of psychotic or mood disorders, epilepsy, dissociation, or other related illnesses.
- It is thought that PCP has a higher potential to worsen symptoms of mania than other dissociatives. People with a personal or family history of bipolar disorder should use extreme caution when approaching PCP.
- PCP can also sometimes cause intense hangover symptoms, such as nausea and numbness in extremities.