PCP Addiction & Rehab

SpringBoard Recovery provides effective treatment for substance use & mental health disorders.

Evan Leonard MS, MMS, PA-C

Dr. Leonard is a Doctor of Medical Science and a clinical anatomist. He has practiced in both internal and emergency medicine and has published several, peer-reviewed articles and a medical book chapter.

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a mind-altering drug that many people believe to be the most dangerous of drugs to abuse. It is a powerful and dangerous hallucinogen that creates psychoactive and physical effects on its users.
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It is known to cause violent and bizarre behavior in people who abuse it. PCP can be used in the following ways:

  • It can be injected into the veins.
  • It can be swallowed.
  • It can be inhaled through the nose.
  • It can be swallowed.

Some street names for PCP are angel dust, embalming fluid, hog, killer weed, love boat, ozone, peace pill, rocket fuel, supergrass, and wack.

PCP emerged as a street drug in the 1960s. The abuse of PCP waned in the 1970s and rose again in the 1980s. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network of 2013, DAWN, the number of emergency department visits due to abusing PCP increased more than 400 percent between 2005 to 2011. The largest increase was seen in ages 25 to 34. In 2011, about 69% of the population treated in ER for PCP abuse were males.

Even though there has been a drop in people abusing this dangerous drug, there is still a concern for those who do become addicted to it. There is a need to continue to educate people on its dangers and on the treatment plan needed to live a life free from this harmful drug.

What are Some Effects of PCP Addiction?

PCP has serious effects on the brain. It acts on your brain (the sensory nervous system). It changes people’s moods, behaviors, and the way they relate to the world. It causes people to hallucinate, which means they may think they hear or see things that are not really there.

It causes people to feel as though they are separated from their body which is known as dissociating. People using this drug feel as though they are floating. They have feelings of “euphoria.” They may have feelings of being superhuman. They feel as though they have super strength and are not afraid of anything.

Some other harmful effects of PCP on the body are:

  • Numbness throughout the body.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Large doses can make people suspicious of others and not trusting of others.
  • It can increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and temperature.
  • You can get hurt badly and not feel the pain due to its pain-killing agents.
  • Long term use can cause memory loss.
  • Long term use can cause thinking problems and talking problems.
  • Mood problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • A very large dose may cause kidney failure, heart arrhythmia, muscle rigidity, seizures or death.

The History of PCP

PCP was originally marketed in the 1950s as an anesthetic pharmaceutical drug by Parke, Davis and Company. The trade name for this drug at that time was Sernyl. It was originally used as a surgical anesthetic and later utilized by veterinarians as an animal tranquilizer.

In the beginning, PCP was widely embraced by the medical community due to its effectiveness in anesthetic without negative side effects to the heart and lungs. However, due to its negative side effects such as post-operative psychosis, severe anxiety, and dysphoria; the medical community discontinued its use in 1965. By 1967, PCP was used only as an animal tranquilizer. PCP entered the street scene in the 1960s in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco. This area was a huge part of the hippie movement and known for its use of psychedelic drugs.

In 1978, PCP became illegal to sell. It is classified as a Schedule II substance meaning that the likelihood of abusing this drug or becoming addicted to this drug is high.

What is the Difference Between PCP Abuse and Addiction?

Many people use the terms “abuse” and “addiction” interchangeably. However, these terms are different. Abuse precedes addiction. First people will begin with abusing a drug. They will begin to use it for its pleasure rather than for the treatment of pain or for its intended purpose. Once they become psychologically and physically dependent on the drug they are addicted to it. They no longer can choose whether or not they will take it. It is an addiction when they have no choice but to use it because they need it all the time.

What are the Signs of PCP Addiction?

The following are signs of PCP addiction:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flicking up and down of the eyelids
  • Disoriented thinking
  • Detachment from reality
  • Weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Violent behaviors
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Seizures
  • Symptoms of paranoia
  • Symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Sense of floating (distance from one’s environment)
  • Speech is garbled and sparse

Some of these symptoms are for higher doses of this drug. However, PCP should be taken very seriously because it is one of the most dangerous of all drugs to abuse. Seek medical help immediately when there is suspicion of abusing PCP.

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Short Term Effects

The short term effects of PCP is dependent on the dose and the route that it is administered. When the drug is smoked the effects will begin in as little as 2 minutes. When the drug is swallowed the effects are delayed to about 30 to 60 minutes. Whether smoked or swallowed, the effects of the drug can last anywhere between 4 hours to 48 hours depending on the amount taken. The effects of PCP causes a person to have a false sense of becoming detached from their own reality (their bodies). They get a sense of divorce from their own reality. People taking this drug will have visual and auditory distortions.

Long Term Effects

When people struggle with PCP for a long time, the following are the long term effects of PCP addiction:

  • They can develop speech impediments.
  • Their brain structure changes.
  • They develop memory and cognitive dysfunction.
  • They will experience withdrawals when they do not have access to the drug.
  • They go on binges known as “runs.” During “runs,” they take the drugs two or three times a day and do not eat or sleep for days. Runs are usually followed by a long period of sleep.
  • Damage to internal organs because of failure to eat and drink.
  • Physical harm from falls, bruises, cuts, burns.
  • Accidental self-harm.
  • About 70% of people abusing PCP inhale it and increase their risks of lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, and bladder cancer.

Recovering from PCP Addiction

It is imperative that anyone suffering from PCP addiction seeks medical care in order to safely recover from this addiction. People cannot just stop taking this drug on their own. They will need medical support physically and psychologically. They have a risk of relapsing if they do not seek proper medical support.

The first step to recovery is always detoxification. During this process, there is always the risk of relapse if patients try to go off the drug on their own. In many cases, there is a risk of physical harm and even death if they do not have the proper support in place. People recovering from PCP addiction will need help to get through detox and they will need help to continue in their journey to a full recovery. There are many treatment plans available to help people get free from this addiction.

Detoxing off PCP

Drug detox is the process of removing drugs from the body. This will ensure that people are ready to begin therapy. The purpose of detox is to get rid of all the toxins that have built up in our bodies that make us feel as though we need them in order to function normally. Detoxing will help us to be able to function normally again without the drugs in our bodies.

Some common PCP withdrawals symptoms are:

  • A decrease in reflexes
  • Quick weight loss
  • Loss of memory
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Problems with speech
  • Some people can slip into a coma
  • Some people commit suicide

It is obvious that people seeking to detox from PCP must seek medical care. They should not attempt it on their own. They will need ongoing professional support as they continue on this journey to recovery.

Medical detox provides patients with medication to help lessen the painful withdrawal symptoms patients often endure. These medications assist in making patients more comfortable. Some people choose a more holistic approach during detox in which they manage their withdrawal symptoms through receiving nutritious meals and adding exercise. A medical doctor will help to determine if the patient is healthy enough to choose the holistic approach. The timeline for PCP detox depends on how often patients used and how much they used each time. It can take anywhere from 2 to 10 days for the drug to leave the body. After patients have completed the detox program, they are discharged and cleared to go into rehab treatment.

Types of Drug Rehab Centers and Treatment Options

There are many options for treatment once patients have completed the detox program. Many times patients are dealing with a co-occurring disorder. The co-occurring disorder is often a mental illness. It can also be a physical illness. Both the co-occurring illness and the addiction will have to be treated in order for the patient to enjoy a life of sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, about 50% of people who enter a drug treatment program are also dealing with a co-occurring disorder. About 7.9 million people in the United States are dealing with a mental illness and an addiction. Dual Diagnosis treatment is necessary for people suffering from addiction along with a mental illness.

The following are the types of drug rehab centers for people to consider:

Our outpatient drug treatment program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.

SpringBoard Recovery Offers Treatment for PCP Addiction

At SpringBoard Recovery, we support and help people get free of their PCP addiction. We understand how difficult it is to break free of addiction on your own. It is important that you seek professional support and help. Our program is aimed to meet the individual and unique needs of our patients. We know that everyone does not have the same needs. We offer personalized support to our patients. When someone contacts us for help, they will fill out a questionnaire that will help our staff determine each person’s goals and needs. Each person will receive a team of people consisting of a medical doctor, psychologist, therapist, and nurse. This treatment team will work together to create a treatment plan to help their patient reach their goals and their individual needs.

The treatment team will work along with the patient to determine if the patient needs inpatient, outpatient, residential, or long term rehab.  Once the determination has been made, the patient will enter the program. For the patient to enter the program, they must first complete the detox program. We always provide referrals for detox programs that we know and trust.

SpringBoard Recovery offers an excellent outpatient program. We have quality staff here to support you as you begin your journey to a life of sobriety. We will help you walk through each step of your journey. While in rehab, you will participate in individual therapy, group therapy, family sessions, art therapy, and sessions with your psychologist. These sessions will be geared to help you meet your goals and to help meet your unique needs. We also offer sober living services.

Whether you are local or far away, there are many reasons why you should consider SpringBoard Recovery. Many people do better and can be more focused on their recovery if they are able to get away from their everyday life and get far away from their hometown. Being in a new location benefits them greatly. They are able to get away from all their stressors. Please contact us today for more information.

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