Phencyclidine, or PCP
The drug known as Phencyclidine was originally synthesized in 1926. In a class of dissociative drugs, PCP is a white anesthetic and was developed for medical use on humans and as a veterinary tranquilizer during the 1950s. Its use in the hospital setting was discontinued in 1965 after extended clinical trials turned up findings about the prevalence of negative side effects. Today, PCP is a very rarely-used veterinary anesthetic, and while occasionally produced for research purposes, is not in general use.
The Debut of “Angel Dust”
Phencyclidine made its debut as an illegal street drug, commonly referred to as “angel dust,” in the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Over the course of the following decade, Phencyclidine’s popularity peaked, with users frequently smoking or snorting the hallucinogen to speed the onset of its effects, bringing new popularity to the drug’s powdered form. Also found in liquid form, users have been known to inject the solution or consume it orally.
The Deadly Effects
The effects of PCP are myriad, and the grip of addiction only serves to intensify the long-term effects, including persistent speech issues, blood pressure and mental health problems, memory loss or impairment, weight loss, body temperature fluctuations, different psychological effects, flashbacks, and the risk of sudden onset toxic psychosis, particularly in users with a previous history of mental disturbance or paranoid delusions. Binge usage, involving days of high doses or repeated dosages of PCP and little to no food or sleep, may become persistent as chemical and psychological
Paranoia and Erratic Behavior
Soon after a dose of PCP enters the body, agitation and anxiety, often to the point of paranoid and erratic behavior, begin to manifest. Blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired central nervous system and motor skills may give the impression of being under the influence of alcohol. Sudden feelings of terror, panic or the sensation of imminent death may overwhelm the user, leading to bizarre acts of hostility toward perceived sources of threat. A PCP user does not typically exhibit superhuman strength as a result of taking the drug, despite sensational reports by the media, but may show an unusual lack of awareness, resulting in the appearance of being impervious to pain and unresponsive to touch. This may lead to greater difficulty in subduing an uncooperative subject in the event of police involvement, increasing the likelihood of violence on behalf of either party. Overdose can easily lead to seizures, coma, and death.
The Dangers of PCP
The dangers of Phencyclidine abuse lie not only in the chemical compound itself, but also in its possible impurity and unexpected presence alongside other illegally available drugs. As its modern manufacturers operate in makeshift laboratories under questionable conditions by those who may be under the influence of the drug themselves, the possibility of acquiring contaminated PCP, or accidental consumption while being marketed as another substance is high. Recent finds of Phencyclidine being mixed and sold in pill form with the rave drugs Ecstasy/MDMA or the animal sedative Ketamine have only served to further illustrate the product impurity of the underground drug trade.