PCP Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding PCP Addiction

Learn about PCP addiction & abuse

An illicit substance that can cause users to be unable to feel pain while experiencing hallucinations is phencyclidine. Also known as PCP, angel dust, rocket fuel, wet, and illy, this dangerous drug is often found in the form of a powder or sticky substance that is brown in color and can be snorted through one’s nose, smoked, or dissolved in other substances. The high caused by PCP can make users feel as though they are detached from reality and result in a display of drastic shifts in mood when observed by others. Long-term use of this drug can ultimately cause irreversible damage that can be life-altering.

Once of the potential effects that can occur after someone uses PCP is the onset of psychosis. Psychotic symptoms can be quite distressing and lead to an overall decline in a person’s mental health. Additionally, the adverse effects to a person’s physical health can oftentimes be life-threatening. For these reasons and more, it is imperative that a person seek treatment in order to avoid such consequences and end the pattern of abuse that is involved in regularly using PCP.


PCP abuse statistics

While some substances are more frequently abused by young people, PCP is one such drug that is abused more often by adults than individuals of younger age. Research estimates that nearly 3% of adults have tried PCP at some point. Recent research also states that, more often than not, medical attention is needed to treat the effects that occur after an individual takes this drug.

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for PCP abuse

There are certain risk factors and other causes that explain why some people abuse drugs, such as PCP, while others do not. The following concepts are agreed upon by experts in the fields of mental health and addiction and explain why and how an individual may come to abuse PCP:

Genetic: Whether or not a person will eventually come to abuse drugs, such as PCP, is somewhat reliant on his or her genetic history. Researchers have found that addiction can be found among individuals who share genes, of which supports the notion that genetics can play a role in the development of a substance abuse problem.

Environmental: The environmental influences that can prompt an individual to abuse PCP include exposure to others abusing this drug and being able to acquire PCP easily. Furthermore, if a person has a history of being exposed to violence, trauma, or has been victimized in some way, there is an elevated risk for this type of substance use.

Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of abusing other drugs or alcohol
  • Family history of substance abuse, addiction, or dependence
  • Exposure to violence
  • Being surrounded by people who use PCP
  • Presence of a mental health disorder or disorders
  • Having easy access to PCP
  • Exposure to crime

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of PCP abuse

The telling signs that suggest a person is abusing PCP can vary and manifest in an individual’s behavior, physical appearance, thought processes, and emotions. If any of the following symptoms are present, it is possible that a person may be abusing PCP:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Missing work
  • Increased aggression
  • Being physically violent towards others
  • Erratic behavior
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Inability to fulfill roles or responsibilities
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Continued drug use

Physical symptoms:

  • Tachycardia
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle spasms
  • Drooling
  • Hindered lung functioning
  • Physical tolerance for PCP
  • Profuse sweating
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Numb feelings in hands, arms, feet, and legs
  • Hypertension

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Lack of focus
  • Detachment from surroundings
  • Poor decision-making
  • Amnesia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Psycho-social symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Drastic shifts in mood


Effects of PCP abuse

Abusing PCP can render numerous consequences for a person. Spanning across several areas of an individual’s life, the listed adversities are likely to occur should a person continue to abuse this substance without seeking treatment:

  • Increased conflict within interpersonal relationships
  • Financial strife
  • Brain damage
  • Impaired motor functioning
  • Interaction with the legal system
  • Development of suicidal ideation
  • Development of a mental health condition or conditions
  • Development of another substance use disorder
  • Loss of employment
  • Homelessness
  • Suicide attempts
  • Overdose
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

PCP abuse & co-occurring disorders

It is possible that those who abuse PCP are also suffering from a mental health condition at the same time. The following mental illnesses are those that are frequently diagnosed in individuals who are grappling with a PCP abuse problem:

  • Additional substance use disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of PCP withdrawal & overdose

Effects of PCP withdrawal: Withdrawing from PCP is safest when done under the supervision of medical professionals. If a person is experiencing withdrawal from PCP, the telltale signs can include the following and warrant medical attention in order to prevent more serious health concerns from developing:

  • Speech impairment
  • Hindered cognitive functioning
  • Muscle twitching
  • Increased agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased acid levels in the body, also known as acidosis
  • Poor impulse control
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Confusion
  • Elevated anxiety levels
  • Memory impairment
  • Increased body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss

Effects of PCP overdose: The dangers associated with overdosing on PCP are vast in amount. If emergency medical attention is not sought as soon as overdose signs become apparent, it is possible that a grave outcome could occur. If any of the following happen, it is pertinent that medical attention received quickly:

  • Catatonia
  • Extreme agitation
  • Rapid eye movement, also known as nystagmus
  • Uncontrolled body movements
  • Psychosis
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sudden convulsions
  • Coma

I struggled with PCP for 1 year before seeking treatment. But, from my first day at Galax to my last, I felt that everyone cared.

– Terry
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