Messing With PCP Will Mess With Your Body and Mind

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

Those looking for a trip with highs and hallucinations have a ‘good’ choice of substances to choose from. One that should most definitely be avoided is PCP.

As with all recreational drugs it has a host of street names and a variety of ways in which it is taken, but the potential baggage this drug carries with it really is not worth the risks.

Let’s look at some of the facts and effects as well as one major difference between it and other hallucinogens that make it a trip to pass on.

A complex mix of chemicals:

PCP or Phencyclidine belongs to the group of drugs that are dissociative anesthetics. It is produced by synthesizing a complex mixture of chemicals.

The pure form is an oily yellow substance that is normally dissolved in substances such as petroleum. For street use hydrogen chloride gas will be thrown into the mix. This turns it into a crystalline powder that is white or tan in colour and is known as PCP hydrochloride.

Different ways to take PCP:

There are a variety of ways to take the drug. Let’s start with one favoured by many:

Smoking: This is a very popular way to take the drug as it is seen to give users a better chance of controlling the effects. It is common to sprinkle the powder on marijuana, tobacco or parsley.

An alternative on the street comes in the form of “embalming fluid”. The PCP is mixed with water and this liquid is dripped onto a cigarette. As soon as the cigarette is dry it can be smoked for the desired effect.

Snorting: Most will be familiar with the term ‘Angel Dust’, this is the powder form used for snorting. Just a small amount taken produces an immediate effect.

Injecting: Not very common at all although it is reported to give a ‘full on’ effect. The problem is taking it in this way brings dangerous side effects and has been known to cause immediate death!

Pills: It is sold in capsules under various names and generally means the user is taking larger amounts of PCP. Ecstasy users take note: Your ‘Happy Pill’ is often laced with PCP. As an aside, the vast majority of Ecstasy tablets on sale nowadays contain no MDMA whatsoever which means you are being short-changed!

Why the hype about the high?

There is no argument that even in small doses PCP is a very powerful substance. Its unpredictability is also well documented. Dependent upon how it is taken the high can last anywhere between a minimum of 3 hours and up to 8 hours.

Many report being detached from reality, entering a fantasy world, and even feeling as if they are out of their body. Hallucinations then join the fray.

While this may sound all well and good to some it must be said that the experience is not always a pleasant one. It is very important for those dabbling with PCP to understand that once they have ‘brought the ticket’, that like it or not, they are on a long trip without any emergency exits.

Another important point to understand is that no two trips will be the same, and just because you have experienced good trips to date does not mean you are guaranteed a good one the next time.

Lower doses – Physical effects:

Smaller doses give feelings of sedation, loss of muscle coordination, fingers and toes often feel numb and dizziness is common. Many have a blank look about them although they cannot stop rapid eye movement.

Blurred or double vision is common. Some will have flushes, sweat profusely, feel nauseous and even vomit. There is also a likelihood of increased heart and breathing rates as well as a rise in blood pressure.

Larger doses – Physical effects:

This is when the painkilling and anesthetic effects of PCP kick-in. Heart and breathing rate as well as blood pressure drop steeply. A users uncoordinated movements make them appear drunk. Other possible effects include dizziness, loss of balance, shivering, watering eyes and a noticeable tightening of muscles.

Constant rocking back and forward or other repetitive movements can be a symptom, difficulty in seeing things straight or talking any sense is common, and for several hours during the trip straight thinking, remembering things or making decisions will all be challenges that many avoid.

High doses – Serious problems:

Those who have gone well over the top become agitated in the extreme and it is common for seizures or a coma to follow. These comas have been recorded as lasting between a couple of days and several weeks. The symptoms a user has from taking high doses are likened to those schizophrenia causes.

The final reason to stay well away from PCP:

Those in need of further persuasion to leave PCP alone need to understand one final point. PCP is unlike the majority of hallucinogens because regular or repeated use can create a user to build a tolerance for it.

Tolerance is a major reason in determining whether a drug has addictive properties or not.

So, as far as using PCP is concerned the more you use, the greater your tolerance becomes. The greater your tolerance, the more you need to satisfy those cravings. The more you take the deeper into dependence and addiction you will slide.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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