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All About Phencyclidine, Also Known As PCP

PCP, an acronym for 1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl) piperidine, exists as one of the more commonly known hallucinogenic drugs. Hallucinogens in general produce “other worldly-type” experiences unlike the effects produced by opiate and stimulant type drugs.

As PCP use typically brings on some unusual effects, it should be fairly easy to recognize a PCP high in a loved one. PCP highs result from the unusually high levels of neurotransmitter chemicals flooding the brain.

A PCP high can produce varied effects depending on the dosage amount taken as well as the mood and environment a person is in when ingesting the drug. As PCP causes considerable disruption in overall brain function, overdose is always a possibility when loved ones start to show signs of a PCP high.

The PCP High Experience

As a hallucinogen drug, PCP can have both stimulant and depressant effects. These effects result from the drug’s ability to trigger the release of several different types of neurotransmitter chemicals.

According to the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, users experience a range of different effects during a PCP high, some of which include –

pcp abuse

A person high on PCP will likely experience hallucinations and distorted sensory experiences.

  • Feelings of power and invincibility
  • Numbing of the mind
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Irrational thinking patterns
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Hallucination
  • Unaware of surroundings
  • Feelings of anxiety

It’s the feelings of power and invincibility that keep users coming back to the drug.

PCP Effects on the Brain

PCP can be taken orally as well as smoked or injected. Oral ingestion produces a PCP high that can last anywhere from five to eight hours. Smoking or injecting produces more intense effects that last for only three to five hours.

According to the California Journal of Emergency Medicine, dosage amounts as low as one to five milligrams can increase serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine chemical levels in the brain. These processes affect a person’s emotions, sensory perceptions, motor skill functions and cognitive functions.

Dose-Dependent Effects

According to George Mason University, PCP high effects can vary considerably depending on the dosage amount taken. Low doses of PCP typically bring on a different set of physical effects than high doses do. In low dosage amounts, physical signs take the form of –

  • Dizziness
  • Blank staring
  • Sedation
  • Numbness in the arms and legs
  • Blurred vision
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Lack of muscle coordination

Dosage levels of five to 10 milligrams can bring on more severe effects, some of which include –

  • Catatonia
  • Agitation
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Hallucinations

Overdose Indicators

Large amounts of PCP place users at considerable risk of overdose. Under these conditions, a PCP high can quickly make a turn for the worse. In doses of over 10 milligrams, users place themselves at high risk for overdose.

Overdose indicators include –

  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or pacing
  • Watery eyes
  • Chills
  • Confused thought processes
  • Coma

Comas resulting from PCP overdose can last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. Ultimately, this drug carries a very real potential for overdose, and also death.

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