This substance was invented in the 1920s, but not until the 1950s was it introduced as a drug, intended as a human and veterinary anesthetic. Human medical use soon ended because of psychological effects discovered during tests on patients. PCP is related to ketamine and, like that substance, has hallucinogenic qualities. Depending on how PCP is used, it can have stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic actions. In monkeys PCP is about 10 times stronger than ketamine. Its sedative and anesthetic effects are trance-like, and patients experience a feeling of being “out of body” and detached from their environment.
In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol and has a distinctive bitter chemical taste. On the illicit drug market, this substance contains a number of contaminants causing the color to range from a light to darker brown with a powdery to a gummy mass consistency. It is available in a variety of tablets, capsules, and colored powders, which are either taken orally or by insufflation (“snorted”). The liquid form of PCP is actually PCP base dissolved most often in ether, a highly flammable solvent. For smoking, PCP is typically sprayed onto leafy material such as mint, parsley, oregano, or marijuana. The drug may also be injected.
Soon after PCP was introduced as a street drug in the 1960s, it gained a reputation of causing bad reactions and never became very popular with illicit pcp drug users. Some users, though, like the feelings of strength, power and invulnerability the drug produces. Others enjoying the numbing effect PCP can have on the mind. Therefore, some continue to use the drug despite the negative risks.
Short term effetcs
PCP effects can be very unpredictable. Central Nervous System effects can include euphoria, loss of inhibitions, anxiety, disorientation, restlessness, drowsiness, or disorganized thinking. There can also be distorted time, space, and body sensations, feelings of weightlessness, paranoia, and the feeling of being disassociated with the environment. The user can experience audial and visual hallucinations as with LSD. In the body, the substance raises the heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause excess salivation, sweating, numbness, staggering, slurred speech, fever, and muscle rigidity.
In toxic doses, the user can become hostile and violent, acting in a bizarre or psychotic manner. They may attempt to assault other people, or to harm themselves through self-mutilation or suicide. The person may experience amnesia and become catatonic. In high doses, there may be coma, convusions, and death. Persons who’ve received toxic doses must often be restrained and receive tranquilizers to calm them down.
Law enforcement authorities say the drug can make people hostile and give them extra physical strength, and the same has been experienced by medical personnel dealing with overdose emergencies. Researchers, however, have generally not observed such results from PCP (although one of the very first studies in the 1950s noted violent reactions from about 5% of surgery patients who received the drug as an anesthetic).
Military research found that PCP hostility did not occur unless persons were under stress, and not all stressed individuals reacted that way. The military study also found that psychotic episodes did not occur with normal persons; someone had to be prone to psychosis in order for such behavior to occur while using the drug (a finding supported by other studies as well)
Long term effects of PCP
PCP is addicting; that is, its repeated use often leads to psychological dependence, craving, and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior.
Recent research suggests that repeated or prolonged use of this drug can cause withdrawal syndrome when drug use is stopped. Symptoms such as memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, weight loss and depression may persist for as long as a year after a chronic user stops taking PCP.
A study of 200 recreational users found differences in effects reported by persons who took a little of the drug once a month and by persons who took a lot every day for years. Heavy users felt more pepped-up, violent, and suicidal. Regular users of the substance are known for self-destruction; one study found that 24% of regular users had tried to commit suicide, and 36% had overdosed on other drugs. A study of PCP users who were treated at a charity hospital found no behavioral difference between black or white males, but black females acted much stranger and more aggressively than white females. The meaning of that finding is unclear—it could be racial, could be cultural, could be a statistical oddity that would disappear after more research.