Updated on May 18, 2024
4 min read

Statistics on PCP Use, Prevalence, & Addiction Treatment

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a potent dissociative drug that has seen a resurgence in recent years. This drug has raised concerns among public health officials and medical professionals. 

The increase in PCP-related emergency department (ED) visits and the drug's severe psychological effects highlight the need for increased awareness and targeted interventions to address this growing problem.

What Is PCP?

PCP was initially developed as an anesthetic in the 1950s. However, it was discontinued for human use due to its adverse side effects like agitation, delusions, and irrational behavior. 

Despite this, PCP gained popularity as a recreational drug, known by various street names such as Angel Dust, Supergrass, and Rocket Fuel.

PCP can be found in various forms, including powder, crystals, and liquid, and is commonly abused by smoking, snorting, or swallowing. The drug acts as a dissociative, inducing feelings of detachment, numbness, and a sense of invulnerability. Higher doses can lead to hallucinations and symptoms mimicking schizophrenia.

PCP-Related Emergency Department Visits on the Rise

The increasing trend of PCP-related emergency department visits is a growing public health concern, highlighting the acute effects of PCP use on users.

  • Between 2005 and 2011, the estimated number of PCP-related ED visits increased by more than 400%, from 14,825 to 75,538 visits.
  • Adults aged 25 to 34 experienced a 518% increase in PCP-related ED visits during the same period.
  • Males were significantly more likely than females to experience a PCP-related emergency room visit.
  • Approximately 72% of PCP-related ED visits involved the use of other drugs in combination with PCP, which can exacerbate the drug's effects.
pcp chart 1

The sharp rise in ED visits underscores the need for targeted public health interventions and increased awareness of the dangers associated with PCP use.

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PCP Use Among the Youth

The prevalence of PCP use among young people is a concerning trend, emphasizing the importance of prevention efforts and education to curb PCP use in this vulnerable population.

  • More than 3% of high school seniors in the United States have used PCP at least once in their lifetime.
  • In 2020, 52,000 individuals aged 12 years and older reported initiating PCP use within the past year.
  • PCP use among youth can have particularly detrimental effects on development and mental health, including impeding the learning process and increasing the risk of injury or death.
pcp chart 2

Implementing targeted prevention programs, such as school-based education and public health campaigns, is crucial to protect young people from the dangers of PCP use.

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PCP and Its Link to Violent Behavior

The relationship between PCP use and violent or erratic behavior is a significant concern, as the drug has the potential to cause harm to both users and those around them.

  • PCP users were more likely to have perpetrated past-year general and intimate partner violence compared to those who used cannabis or a combination of alcohol and cannabis.
  • The drug's psychological effects, including delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia, can lead to unpredictable and potentially violent behavior.
  • High doses of PCP can cause severe physiological effects, such as seizures, coma, and even death, often as a consequence of accidental injury or suicide while under the drug's influence.

These findings underscore the public health concerns associated with PCP use and the need for effective prevention and treatment strategies to mitigate the risks of harm to users and those around them.

Success Rates and Challenges in PCP Addiction Treatment

Treating PCP addiction presents unique challenges, and understanding the success rates and common obstacles faced by those seeking treatment is essential for improving outcomes.

  • Relapse rates for substance use disorders, including PCP addiction, are estimated to be between 40% and 60%, highlighting the chronic nature of addiction and the need for ongoing support.
  • PCP's severe psychological effects, such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, can complicate treatment efforts and require specialized interventions.
  • Limited resources and specialized programs for treating PCP addiction emphasize the need for increased funding and targeted treatment options.

Developing comprehensive treatment strategies that include detoxification, behavioral therapies, and long-term recovery support is crucial to addressing PCP addiction and improving success rates effectively.

With PCP use on the rise and emergency room visits following suit, we need to raise awareness regarding the drug's dangers. The severe psychological effects of PCP, combined with the challenges in treating addiction, make it crucial to develop comprehensive strategies that address prevention, treatment, and long-term recovery support.

To effectively combat the growing problem of PCP use, it’s essential to invest in research to better understand the factors contributing to its resurgence. Developing targeted prevention programs and increasing access to specialized treatment services are crucial steps, too. This can help us work towards mitigating the harmful effects of PCP on individuals, families, and communities.

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Updated on May 18, 2024
12 sources cited
Updated on May 18, 2024
  1. “PCP (Phencyclidine).” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2020.  
  2. “PCP History and Statistics.” DrugAbuse.com. 
  3. “Phencyclidine (PCP).” National Drug Intelligence Center, 2003. 
  4. “DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.  
  5. “Intelligence Bulletin: Phencyclidine (PCP).” National Drug Intelligence Center, 2003.  
  6. “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” Quick Statistics Results, 2021.
  7. “Hallucinogens DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021. 
  8. “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” Emergency Department Visits Involving Phencyclidine (PCP), 2013. 
  9. “What are the effects of PCP?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.  
  10. “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” The DAWN Report: Emergency Department Visits Involving Phencyclidine (PCP), 2013. 
  11. “What are the long-term effects of PCP use?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  12. “What is the scope of PCP use in the United States?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.

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