Facts about PCP (Phencyclidine)

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Presently, PCP is a controlled Schedule II substance. It is a crystalline, white powder or yellowish clear liquid. When in contact with contaminants, the color changes to a tan brownish color. It falls in the Hallucinogen class of drugs as a sedative, psychotomimetic, dissociative anesthetic drug.

 2.Sources of PCP

PCP is a synthetic chemical that is manufactured in clandestine labs or diverted from other veterinary sources. Piperidine is used along with cyclohexanone and cyanide to create piperidinocyclohexanecarbonitrile (PCC). When reacted with phenylmagnesium bromide, PCC produces a synthetic illicit PCP. PCP is dispensed in liquid form in tiny shaker bottles and may be mixed with a various tablets, dyes colored powers and capsules.

 3.Recreational and Medical Application

Previously, PCP was used as an anesthetic agent during surgical procedures. However, it is no longer being used legitimately on human beings on medical grounds. It is currently used for recreation purposes as a hallucinogen and psychedelic as well as a tranquilizer or anesthetic in veterinary.


A light dose of PCP generally comprises three to five milligrams but five to ten milligram dosage is common. Any dosage that exceeds 10 milligram is strong. Due to challenges in synthesizing PCP, preparations on the street tend to have highly inconsistent byproduct and PCP concentrations. Illicit samples contain about 20% of PCC which is highly toxic compared to PCC due to its ability to release cyanide.

5.Mode of Administration

Often, PCP is administered alongside drugs like crack cocaine, marijuana and cocaine hydrochloride. Light doses are often taken through smoking or intravenously whereas heavy doses are orally ingested. PCP liquid may also be sprinkled on marijuana or tobacco and smoked. Alternatively, cigarettes are dipped into PCP solution and smoked. Other modes of administration include snorting, transdermal absorption and adding to eye drops. The varying modes of administration result to varying PCP dosage.

6.Concentration in Blood

Though a direct correlation between physical or behavioral findings and PCP concentration, PCP concentration tends to peak within four hours of ingestion.  An average plasma peak concentration of between 2.9 and 2.7 may be achieved after intravenous and oral dosage of 1 milligram of PCP respectively.

 7.Psychological Effects of PCP

Effects of PCP depend largely on dosage. Common psychological effects include calmness, feeling strong and invulnerable, euphoria, disorientation, distinct body awareness changes, impaired concentration and loss of coordination. Other effects include distorted thinking and sensory perceptions, hallucinations, violence, agitation, memory loss, sedation, bizarre behavior and stupor.

 8.Physical Effects of PCP

PCP leads to rising blood pressure; increased heart beat rate, profuse sweating, flushing, and numbness, speech difficulties, incoordination of muscles scowl facial expression, and blurred vision.  Other physical effects included nystagmus, analgesia and anesthesia. Patients remain conscious with rigid muscles and staring gaze when they are in anesthetized state. PCP causes side effects that can lead to death including severe anxiety, nausea, amnesia, vomiting, excess salivation, seizures and coma. Prolonged exposure to PCP leads to loss of memory, weight loss, depression and liver abnormalities.

9.Onset of PCP Effects

Effects of PCP are manifested rapidly when administered through injection or smoking, within one to five minutes. When ingested orally or snorted, effects manifest within half an hour and decline gradually over a four to six hour period. Normalcy returns in about 24 hours and patients regain consciousness within an hour of intravenous administration.

10.Withdrawal Effects

PCP is addictive and its use can cause psychological craving and dependence. Abrupt withdrawal leads to physical stress, depression and lack of energy. Thinking and speech difficulties, memory loss and weight loss resulting from prolonged use can take a year to clear after cessation.

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