Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

PCP Addiction: Symptoms, Treatment & Resources

Key Takeaways

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a synthetic dissociative hallucinogenic. It causes sensory perception distortions, hallucinations, unusual sights, sounds, and colors.

People use this as a recreational drug despite it being illegal. It’s essential to understand the risks of using it and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.

Is PCP Addictive?

Although certain hallucinogens aren’t typically addictive, PCP is. It’s a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Regular use can lead to PCP use disorder that involves intense cravings and physical dependence. PCP addiction can lead to long-term health problems and even death.

When a person is addicted to the drug, they may spend significant time and money to obtain and use it. Dependence can also cause behavioral changes, such as using larger amounts of the drug more frequently than intended.

How Can You Prevent PCP Addiction?

To help prevent PCP addiction, it’s essential to follow these steps:

  • Avoid drug use: The best way to prevent addiction is to avoid using drugs, including PCP. This also includes limiting exposure to people who abuse it.
  • Educate yourself and others: Share information about the dangers of PCP use, its potential for addiction, and ways to seek help with friends and family members.
  • Seek alternative forms of recreation: If you or someone you know is using the substance as a form of recreation, try to find alternative activities that are enjoyable and don’t involve drug use.
  • Seek help for mental health conditions: Many people turn to drugs as a way to self-medicate underlying mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, seek proper treatment and support. 
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What are PCP Addiction Symptoms?

Those addicted to this illegal drug may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Numbness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Distorted sense of time and space
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Cravings for PCP
  • Difficulty controlling the use of the drug
  • Continued use despite negative consequences (e.g., relationship problems, health issues)

What are PCP Withdrawal Symptoms?

Those who abuse PCP can experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. They can last a significantly long time and include:

  • Fever and night sweats
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Seizures
  • Fear
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Muscle twitching and tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Diarrhea
  • Acidosis

Long-Term Withdrawal Symptoms of PCP

The withdrawal effects of PCP can last several months up to a year after detox. This can vary depending on the intensity of the addiction and the frequency of PCP use.

Long-term withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood disorders

What are PCP Overdose Symptoms?

Abusing PCP can lead to an overdose with these severe long-term side effects:

  • Agitation or violent behavior
  • Overly excited behavior
  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Catatonic trance
  • Coma
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Excessive tremors
  • Lack of coordination
  • Psychosis

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What are PCP Addiction Treatment Options?

There are no FDA-approved medications or treatments for PCP addiction. However, the following treatment plans have been effective in treating PCP addiction:

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox that avoids harmful withdrawal effects
  • Behavioral therapy: Therapy techniques that explore the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Addiction therapies: Individual or group therapy that helps you manage triggers and cravings to maintain sobriety
  • Counseling: Addiction counseling sessions that uncover the cause of addiction and teach coping strategies
  • Support groups: Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a community to help maintain sobriety after medical treatment

Despite their success, more research is necessary to determine the most effective treatment for PCP and hallucinogen addiction. Understanding the risks of PCP use is crucial for preventing substance abuse.

Guidance for Caregivers and Family Members

Here are some ways to provide support and help those struggling with PCP abuse overcome their addiction:

  • Educate yourself about the drug: Research and learn more about PCP addiction, its signs, symptoms, and effects on the body. The more knowledge you have, the better you understand your loved one’s struggles.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment: Offer your support and encouragement to seek professional help. Let them know you’re always by their side, and you can accompany them to appointments or even help them find a treatment facility.
  • Be patient and understanding: Recovery from addiction is a long process, and there will be setbacks along the way. It’s essential to be patient and understanding with your loved one as they work towards sobriety.
  • Avoid enabling behaviors: It can be tempting to try and protect your loved one from the consequences of their addiction, but this can actually hinder their recovery. Avoid giving them money or making excuses for their behavior.
  • Take care of yourself: Supporting a loved one through addiction can be emotionally and physically draining. Take care of your well-being, and seek support from others if necessary.

What are PCP Drug Interactions?

PCP can dangerously interact with other drugs, causing adverse effects. These interactions can lead to severely low blood pressure, seizure, coma, and death.

Substances that interact with PCP include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Chlorpromazine

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Resources for Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with PCP addiction, there are resources available to help. Consider reaching out to:

  • National Helpline: 1-800-237-TALK (8255)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Treatment locator
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Your primary care provider or a mental health professional: Consult them for personalized guidance and treatment options

Summary

PCP is a dangerous and addictive drug that can have severe long-term effects on the body and mind. While there’s no FDA-approved treatment for PCP addiction, the options above can aid in recovery.

It’s essential to educate yourself about the dangers of PCP use. Seek help if necessary and take steps to prevent substance abuse.

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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