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What Are the Effects of PCP?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Are the Effects of PCP?
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Question: What Are the Effects of PCP?
Answer: Originally developed in the 1950s as an intravenous surgical anesthetic, PCP is in a class known as dissociative drugs. The drug was used in veterinary medicine, but was discontinued for use in humans due to its side-effects.

The drug became a drug of abuse in the 1960s when it appeared in pill form and in the 1970s when it came available in powdered form. A common practice was to sprinkle powdered PCP on marijuana joints and smoke it, but it can also be snorted or in pill form swallowed.

The onset of its sedative and anesthetic effects are rapid. Users report having a trance-like experience or a feeling of being "out of body" or detached from their environment. Users can experience shallow breathing, increased blood pressure and heart rate and elevated body temperature.

Unpredictable Effects

The effects of PCP are unpredictable. In some users it can cause muscle contractions that can produce uncoordinated movements and bizarre postures. These contractions can become so extreme they can result in muscle breakdown or kidney damage.

Very high doses of PCP can cause convulsions, coma, hyperthermia, and death, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse research.

There are many other effects that dissociative drugs can cause, for more details, please see What Are the Effects of Dissociative Drugs?

Back to: Hallucinogens FAQ

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs." Research Report Series Updated January 2014

The Partnership at DrugFree.org. "PCP." Drug Guide. Accessed March 2014.

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