PCP Side Effects

Table of Contents


PCP (phencyclidine) is a psychoactive substance known for causing hallucinations and significantly altering a person’s sense of reality. Classified as a dissociative drug, it can distort various perceptions including sight, color, sound, as well as an individual’s sense of self and environment. Originally developed for use as an anesthetic, PCP was discontinued for medical use in humans due to its severe neurotoxic side effects. Ketamine (Ketalar), another anesthetic that is structurally similar to PCP, was developed as an alternative for use in surgeries and painful procedures.

In its pure form, PCP appears as a white crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol and has a notably bitter chemical flavor. However, on the illegal drug market, PCP often contains various impurities, which can alter its color from light to dark brown and change its consistency from powdery to a gummy mass. Read on to learn more about the effects of this hazardous substance and discover how to connect with evidence-based addiction treatment.

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Common Side Effects of PCP

The outcomes of using PCP can be quite unpredictable. While lower doses might lead to feelings of euphoria and relaxation, higher doses often bring about paranoia and aggression.

Frequently observed PCP side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blurred vision

PCP Side Effects Short-Term

The duration of side effects of PCP use ranges from 4 to 6 hours, and it is often regarded as one of the more hazardous substances of abuse. Moderate quantities of PCP can lead to a sense of disconnection from the surrounding environment, along with feelings of detachment.

People might experience numbness in their limbs, slurred speech, and coordination loss, often coupled with an illusory sense of strength and invincibility. Observable effects can include a vacant stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated way of walking. Other possible effects are auditory hallucinations, distorted perceptions, severe mood swings, and memory loss. PCP may also induce intense anxiety, paranoia, aggressive behavior, and psychotic states that are similar to schizophrenia.

Physiological responses to low to moderate doses of PCP encompass a minor increase in breathing rate, elevated blood pressure and pulse, shallow breathing, and extensive sweating. High doses, by contrast, can lead to decreased blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration, along with nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, erratic eye movements, drooling, imbalance, dizziness, violent behavior, and suicidal tendencies. Extreme doses of PCP can result in seizures, coma, and even death, often due to accidental harm or suicide during the state of intoxication. At high doses, delusions and hallucinations are common psychological effects, with users typically describing their experiences as a trip or an adverse experience as a bad trip.

Additionally, the use of PCP through injection carries the risk of transmitting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis due to needle sharing.

A man thinking about pcp side effects long term


PCP Side Effects Long-Term

The prolonged use of PCP can lead to a range of significant PCP angel dust side effects that impact both physical and mental health. These effects can persist even after discontinuation of the drug and include:

Cognitive impairments

Long-term PCP use can lead to difficulties in concentration, memory loss, and impaired decision-making capabilities.

Mood disorders

Chronic use has been linked to mood disturbances, including depression and anxiety, which may persist long after the cessation of PCP use.

Psychological dependence

It is possible to develop a psychological dependence on PCP, leading to cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder)

HPPD involves recurring hallucinations or other sensory distortions that a person has experienced during previous hallucinogen intoxications.

Social and behavioral changes

Using PCP long-term might trigger changes in behavior, including social withdrawal, reduced motivation, and erratic or aggressive behavior.

Speech difficulties

Prolonged use of PCP can result in problems with speech, such as incoherent or disorganized speech patterns.

Neurological damage

There is potential for lasting neurological damage, which can manifest in various ways, including motor dysfunction and impaired coordination.

Increased risk of psychotic disorders

Long-term PCP use can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic psychotic disorders, similar in some aspects to schizophrenia.

Physical health decline

Chronic abuse of PCP may lead to overall decline in physical health, including weight loss and poor nutrition.

Respiratory problems

The sustained inhalation of PCP can lead to respiratory issues, including lung damage.


In the case of chronic PCP use, addiction may manifest as hallucinogen use disorder, a chronic and relapsing condition classified in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The severity and combination of these long-term effects can vary based on individual usage patterns, overall health, and other factors. Professional medical help should be sought for anyone struggling with PCP addiction or experiencing long-term side effects.


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Get Treatment for Drug Addiction at California Detox

If you or someone that you care about needs PCP addiction treatment, we can help you with this at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA.

Begin your recovery with our supervised medical detox program and streamline PCP withdrawal while minimizing the likelihood of relapse derailing early recovery. After a week or so of detoxification, you will have addressed the issue of dependence on PCP, and you will be ready for ongoing treatment at our luxury beachside facility in Southern California.

All addictions are different, so PCP addiction treatment at California Detox reflects this with personalized interventions that include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapies (CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic treatments
  • Aftercare and support

When you are ready to tackle PCP addiction head-on, call 949.694.8305 for on-the-spot assistance.



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