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What is PCP?

PCP (phencyclidine) is a dissociative anesthetic most often found as a white crystalline powder. It is readily soluble in water or alcohol. It can be mixed easily with dyes and turns up on the illicit drug market in a variety of tablets, capsules, and colored powders. PCP combined with marijuana is often referred to as "killer joints" or "crystal supergrass".


How is PCP used?

PCP is snorted, smoked, or eaten. For smoking, PCP is often applied to a leafy material such as mint, parsley, oregano, or marijuana. The onset of effects after smoking is rapid.


How does PCP work?

The sedative and anesthetic effects of PCP are trance-like, and users report a feeling of being "out of body" and detached from their environment. When snorted or smoked, PCP rapidly passes to the brain to disrupt the functioning of NMDA receptor complexes for the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate receptors play a major role in the perception of pain, in cognition, and in emotion. In the brain, PCP also alters the actions of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the euphoria and rush associated with many other abused drugs.


What are the effects of PCP?

At low to moderate doses, PCP causes a slight increase in breathing rate and a more pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Respiration becomes shallow, and flushing and profuse sweating occur. Lack of muscle coordination and generalized numbness of the extremities may also occur. Psychologically, PCP causes distinct changes in body awareness similar to those associated with alcohol intoxication. At high doses of PCP, drops in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration may all occur. A PCP high is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. At high doses, illusions and hallucinations are common, but seizures, coma, and death can occur. PCP can also cause effects that mimic the full range of symptoms of schizophrenia. People who abuse PCP for long periods may report memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, depression, and weight loss. Symptoms of PCP use can persist for up to a year after discontinuation of use.


What are some common street names for PCP?

On the street, PCP is sometimes referred to as angel dust, ozon, wack, or rocket fuel.