What is phencyclidine?

Phencyclidine (PCP) is ahallucinogenic recreational drug currently illegal in the United States. Its main effects are at the level of thecentral nervous system, where it disturbs the sensory and motor capacity of the person.

Fun fact: The creation ofphencyclidinedates back to 1926. Subsequently, it was imported to the US market, as a painkiller. Its use became popular, peaking around the 1970s.

However, phencyclidine gained notoriety by being associated with a series ofadverse reactions in the person’s brain, leading tomanias, delusionsanddisorientation. Since then, its use in humans has been outlawed.

Features of phencyclidine

Phencyclidine, as mentioned above, is part ofhallucinogenic drugs. Next, we will mention some of its most relevant features.

Constitutes an illegal psychoactive substance

First, we consider it appropriate to define what a psychoactive substanceIs. They are all those drugs capable of affecting thefunctioning of the brain in such a way that they modify the thoughts, feelings, and even the behavior of the person.

Important: Glutamate is one of the main neurotransmitters of the central nervous system. Its function is to excite neurons, generating a positive effect on the transmission of nerve impulses.

So, phencyclidine, by neutralizing the function of glutamate, produces all kinds of changes in the thoughts and behaviors of the person, this person can suffer an episode of dissociation or even attacks of aggressiveness .

Its main use is anesthetic.

At first, it was used as an anesthetictag. By inhibiting the function of the mainexcitatory neurotransmitter in our body, it produces a state of lethargy and disorientation in the person.

Unfortunately, its effect does not stop there. It also generates all kinds ofAdverse reactions , where the person oscillates between lethargyToepisodes of agitation and anxietytag. This, and other toxic and deadly effects, led to itsOutlawing .

Note: Some of the effects of phencyclidine resemble those of other drugs, such as ketamine .

It is available in several presentations

Phencyclidine has different presentations. It can be aWhite powder, which can be dissolved in water or alcohol. It can also come as aliquid .

It is consumed in different ways

It can be inhaled (like cocaine), it can also be smoked when mixed with cannabis or tobacco , ingested and even injected intravenously (puncture).

If you get to smoke, the effects take to appear between 2 to 5 minutes, approximately. If taken orally, the effects may not be noticeable until the next hour.

For this reason, it is most often smoked by its users for instant effectstag. Intravenousinjections carry certain risks, such as infections by bacteria that reside on the person’s skin.

It is known by various names

Not everyone knows this drug by its official name. On the contrary, the use of other terms that allude to phencyclidine became popular, such as“Angel Dust” , “peace pill” or “Bad grass”

Its consumption can generate addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the USA, the repeated and prolonged use of this substance can generate tolerance , which will make the person want higher doses of high concentrations to achieve the desired effect.

This desire eventually leads to a substance abusedisorder . Some signs that a person addicted to PCP may experience is an intense desire to use it, to the point that it affects the person’s ability to think about other things.

If such a person finds it difficult to access the drug, they may experience extreme feelings of discomfort , anxiety, and even

What sensations does phencyclidine produce?

Its effects modify the thoughts , desires, behaviors and even the sensory capacityof the person. Next, we will name some of its most common effects.

Mood changes

In minimal doses, the effects of PCP are limited to modifying the person ‘s mood , due to its psychoactive effectstag. The person may experience inner peace or tranquility, as well as a state ofEuphoria and Joy .

Important:The effects of the hallucinogen also shift the mood in the opposite direction. The person may experienceanxiety (which can last over time), a feeling of apprehension or mistrust towards the people around him or even episodes of anger .


This is its main effect as a hallucinogen. Because it modifies the concentrations ofchemical substances (mainly glutamate), the person’s senses go haywire.

The person can observe things that are not really there, as well as perceive smells, colors, tastes and Undescribable sensations .


Euphoria is the Zenithor summit of the person’s state of mind. The euphoria causes aBombasticand uncontrollable joy. In the context of medicine, this is apathological phenomenon , since it is a direct consequence of drug use.

Euphoria by itself is usually not harmful at all. These are theAdverse and accompanying effects that can cause problems, both at the time and years later if the use of PCP is prolonged.

Feeling of floating in the air

That phenomenon is what gave the drug its informal nickname, Angeldust (or angel dust, in English). TheEuphoric State is so much that the person experiences a “Mental Clarity” , where his thoughts are not clouded or clouded by other factors.

This unbridled euphoria and serenity has been described as “Angelic”by some of its users. Hence his nickname.

Distortion of reality

Phencyclidine is capable of producing a transient state of dissociationtag. A dissociation is a psychological phenomenon, in which the person’s thoughts are disconnected from theiremotions and elements that surround them at the moment.

Side Effects of Taking Phencyclidine

But, not everything is euphoria, mental clarity and joy. Up to more than 50% of people who come to consume phencyclidine come to suffer from aToxidromic Picture , that is, drug poisoning.

Below we will mention some of the most common signs and symptoms of phencyclidine, including the most dangerous ones.

Aggressive behavior

Euphoria and joy are only one end of the wide plethora of emotionsthat phencyclidine can cause. At the other extreme, however, are more dangerous moods, not only for those around the person, but also for the person himself.

Note: Aggressive behavior occurs with larger doses, where the person’s apprehension of those around them can become aggressive, violent, disoriented, and obscene.

body numbness

General numbness of the body occurs when the person ingests low to moderate doses (2-5 mg). However, the person’s ability to experience pain remains intact.

This lethargy and numbness is cyclical. It may be followed or preceded by episodes of anxiety and agitation.

inconsistent language

Between 1 and 5 mg of consumption , the sedative effects of CPC on the Central Nervous SystemBegin. One of these effects is the loss ofCoherent Languagetag. The person is unable to articulate sentences logically and precisely.

This is possibly due to its effects on the Premotor and motor cerebral cortex , which it inhibits, in addition to the numbness of the body , which prevents the person from being able to articulate and pronounce words correctly.

Important: In the long term, repeated use of phencyclidine can cause problems with speech and pronunciation of words, as a side effect.

Dizziness, nausea and vomiting

Because phencyclidine can be taken with other substances, such as alcohol , when large amounts are ingested, the sedative effect begins to wear off hours later.

When this occurs, the person experiences something similar to a Hangover State (the medical term for which is Veisalgia ), where gastrointestinal complaints, such as nausea and vomiting, as well as neurological complaints, such as dizziness, are experienced.

physical imbalance

As expected, if the person’s body goes numb, your Mental Faculties are inhibited and you experience all kinds of audiovisual Hallucinations , it’s not surprising that said person is also unable to control it.

This is what is known as ataxia , the inability to coordinate voluntary body movements, due to neuromuscular disorders (more frequent in higher doses, between 5 and 25 mg).

Important: In large doses, sudden involuntary muscle contractions occur , generating uncontrollable jerks (known as MyoClonic Movements). Also the person can end up in an arched posture, as a result of a prolonged and painful contraction (opisthotonos ).

Tacycardia and sweating

Ironically, the reason why phencyclidine was used as a sedative from the 1950s was that it did not induce symptoms such as decreased heart rate or Respiratory rate in the patient .

But, when higher doses are ingested, the opposite occurs. PCP is a irritant , triggering arrhythmias and vasospasms (the latter can generate Cardiac ischemia

Note: Sweating occurs as a secondary effect of increased body temperature due to prolonged muscle contraction.

It is also capable of producing arterial hypertension, bronchospasm (making it difficult for the person to breathe) and involuntary contraction of the laryngeal muscles (trachea).

Depression and anxiety

We have already described how phencyclidine is capable of producing serious emotional disturbances, such as anxiety and aggressiveness attacks .

Patients on the road to recovery from phencyclidine experience all kinds of symptoms related to its withdrawal: psychosis, erratic behavior and depressiontag. This state can last from days to weeks.

Memory loss

Research has shown that PCP interferes with essential Neurological Processes in the continuous adaptive process of our brain, such as brain plasticity and Long-termmemory storage .

It achieves this by interacting with the acetylcholine and Glutamate receptors of neurons that are located in places such as the cerebellum and hippocampus (the latter is responsible for the formation of short to long-term memories).

This has serious implications for PCP addicts, as they could experience memory loss and even, in the worst case, develop schizophrenia in the long run.


Seizures are serious signs in cases of severe poisoningtag. They can be accompanied by involuntary jolts and trauma that the person does to himself, involuntarily.

Note: In the hospital setting, seizures are treated with anticonvulsant drugs , such as benzodiazepines .


The most frequent causes of Non-Traumatic Deaths due to the consumption of phendiclicines correspond to: Cardiorespiratory failure , cerebral hemorrhage secondary to arterial hypertension that could not be controlled, and hyperkalemia due to muscle tear.

It is more common for the person to die as a direct consequence of an action committed in a state of aggressiveness, anxiety or psychosis.

Key Findings

  • Phencyclidine, also known as “Angel Dust” , is an illicit hallucinogenic drug, originally used as a pain reliever.
  • The mechanism of phencyclidine is to modify the concentrations of Biochemical Substances (neurotransmitters).
  • Its main effects are euphoria, joy, complacency and numbness of the body. That is, an inhibitory effect.
  • However, it is common for intoxications , muscle contractions, arrhythmias, hypertension, respiratory problems and much more to occur.
  • Prolonged use of the drug can lead to states of psychosis, long-term memory problems, and even schizophrenia .

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