PCP (Phencyclidine) is reported to have been introduced as a “street” or recreational drug in the 1960s. It quickly gained a reputation as a drug that causes severe adverse/negative reactions, hence the cessation of its use in the medical field (1965). However, some abusers continue to take their lives in their hands and challenge the risk involved with the use of PCP, in an effort that they can experience the feelings of strength, power, and invulnerability, which are notable characteristics of this drug.
As well as the numbing effect on the mind that PCP can induce, adverse psychological effects reported are a slight increase in breathing rate, and a pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Breathing becomes shallow, flushing and profuse sweating occur, generalized numbness is felt in the extremities, and a loss of muscular coordination may occur with low-to-moderate doses. These conditions may be supplemented by nausea and vomiting, drooling, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, dizziness and loss of balance, with high doses.
Noteworthy PCP facts
- PCP abusers are often brought to emergency rooms because of overdose or because of the drug’s severe problematic psychological effects.
- While under the influence, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves as well as others.
- High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication).
- PCP admissions to the Emergency Room were evenly split among non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics
- PCP admissions to the Emergency Room for females peaked at age 30-34, but for males were at a fairly constant level for ages 20-34
Alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine (in powder and crack form) are commonly reported as being used in conjunction with PCP. Eighty-eight percent of emergency room admissions, being treated for PCP intoxication, reported having smoked the drug. The symptoms that are desired as well as the negative effects are compounded and made more life threatening when abuse of more than one drug is evident.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, “There is very little published data on treatment outcomes for PCP intoxication. Doctors should consider that acute adverse reactions may be the result of drug synergy with alcohol.7 Current research efforts to manage a life-threatening PCP overdose are focused on a passive immunization approach through the development of anti-PCP antibodies. There are no specific treatments for PCP abuse and addiction, but inpatient and/or behavioral treatments can be helpful for patients with a variety of addictions, including that to PCP.”
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