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Updated on October 6, 2022

Here's How Long PCP Stays in Your System

What is PCP?

PCP is a synthetic dissociative hallucinogenic drug. It’s derived from the chemical 1-phenylcyclohexylpiperidine hydrochloride.

Also known as angel dust, PCP is an illegal drug that gained popularity in the 1960s. All PCP available in the United States is illegally made in labs. 

PCP comes in white powder and can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected. The effects can begin in just 1 to 5 minutes. The high typically lasts between four and six hours.

The effects of PCP are intense and often unpleasant. However, some report feeling:

  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • ‘Superhuman’ strength
  • Excitement 
  • Lack of pain
  • Better social or sexual skills
  • Feeling powerful
  • Adrenaline spikes
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How Long Can PCP Be Detected in Your System?

How long PCP stays in the body and can be detected differs for each person. The average time frame of detection also depends on the type of test:

Type of TestPCP Detection Period 
Urine Can detect PCP within 4 to 6 hours and for up to 2 weeks after use
BloodCan detect PCP within 1 to 4 hours
HairCan detect PCP within 5 to 10 days and up to 90 days after use
SalivaCan detect PCP within 5 to 10 minutes and up to 3 days after use

Factors That Affect Detection Time

The timetable for detecting PCP in the system isn’t the same for everyone. Specific factors that affect the detection period include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Metabolism
  • Age
  • Body mass
  • Heath conditions
  • Physical activity

Sometimes, false positive test results can occur. A false positive test result happens when a person’s drug test mistakenly returns positive due to other medications, a faulty test kit, and more.

Some medications can cause a false positive when testing for PCP. Drugs that are known to trigger false positives for PCP include:

DrugBrand NameUses
DoxylamineUnisomAntihistamine, sleep aid
DextromethorphanRobitussinCough, cold, flu relief
IbuprofenAdvil, MotrinEases mild to moderate pain
ImipramineTofranilAnti-depressant
DiphenhydramineBenadrylAntihistamine
KetamineKetalarGeneral anesthesia
TramadolUltramPain reliever
LamotrigineLamictalAnti-seizure
VenlafaxineEffexorAnti-depressant
DesvenlafaxinePristiqAnti-depressant

Why Do People Test for PCP?

Testing for PCP is usually done for two reasons:

  • Diagnostic testing: Typically done at a hospital or emergency department to detect, screen for, and monitor diseases or conditions.
  • Job eligibility: Drug tests are sometimes imposed at the workplace to determine eligibility for a job.

What to Do After a Positive PCP Detection

If you test positive for PCP, the first thing to prepare for are withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing from PCP is necessary for a full recovery before beginning drug rehabilitation. Some inpatient treatment centers can assist in detoxification.

Symptoms of PCP withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Lack of sleep
  • Restlessness

Often, benzodiazepines (a type of sedative medication) are used to manage symptoms of withdrawal. If you’re experiencing psychosis, Haldol (medication used to treat schizophrenia) can be administered. 

After withdrawal symptoms have subsided, a person can seek counseling and treatment. The two treatment options include: 

  1. Outpatient programs: Allow access to counseling and therapy while living at home, maintaining relationships, and keeping up with obligations like work. Outpatient care can be challenging, as the person in recovery still faces the temptations and triggers of everyday life. 
  2. Inpatient treatment: Often used for people with unsteady home lives who need around-the-clock care. Inpatient treatment removes the person from daily triggers and temptations. 

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Summary

  • PCP is an illegal synthetic dissociative hallucinogenic drug that can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected
  • PCP testing can be done at a hospital for diagnostic testing or at the workplace to determine job eligibility
  • Urine, hair, blood, and saliva tests are all used to detect PCP in the system
  • PCP can be detected in the system up to 90 days after use, but it’s different for every person
  • Body mass, metabolism, health, and age all affect the time PCP can stay in the system and be detected
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