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Phencyclidine (PCP): uses, effects and precautions

Phencyclidine (PCP): uses, effects and precautions

November 29, 2022

The one of the phencyclidine or PCP is a curious case since it is a psychoactive substance that, after being developed as an anesthetic, was discarded due to its side effects. However, some people continue to use it recreationally in various ways. Within the phencyclidine family we find compounds such as thiophene or the better known ketamine.

This recreational drug, in addition to causing a series of pleasant effects, also brings with it numerous adverse effects due to the fact that its active principle is very little selective. Let's see through what mechanism this drug acts and what are its effects .

What is phencyclidine

Phencyclidine is a dissociative drug that can be consumed orally, intravenously, smoked and inhaled . Commonly known as "angel dust", it is usually consumed sporadically and spaced out over time. Normally it is not consumed alone, but is accompanied by other drugs. For example, many people mix it with cocaine or MDMA, modifying or enhancing its effects.


After abandoning its use in humans to see that it produced too many side effects, phencyclidine has been reduced to the veterinary field. In its purest form, PCP is a perfectly crystalline, easily soluble powder. The one that is in the street, nevertheless, can be yellowish or brown forming a species of paste or conglomerate due to the additives and substances that are added to it in their illegal production.

Mechanism of action

Phencyclidine is a non-competitive antagonist of NMDA receptors . This means that it is a substance that prevents the excitation of glutamate receptors, inhibiting them. In addition, it also blocks other receptors such as the ion channels of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and is an opioid gonist.


In this way, the acetylcholine-dependent activity is reduced and also increases the production of amines such as serotonin or dopamine, similar to what occurs with ecstasy or MDMA. In addition, phencyclidine is involved in a large number of intraneuronal processes.

Effects of this drug

The experiences one can expect when taking phencyclidine are multiple. Although it is true that they depend on the dose administered, they also vary from person to person.

Of course, the interaction with other drugs will also produce specific effects that are not achieved only by phencyclidine.

1. Dissociation

The effect that more people look for through phencyclidine and that is more characteristic of these compounds is that of dissociation . You feel as if you are detaching yourself from your surroundings, you feel like your body does not belong to your surroundings. You experience a sense of distance with reality, as if you were seeing life through a screen.


The sensation of unreality characteristic of phencyclidine can be fun for some, but for others it can become a terrifying experience in which the individual does not know if it will ever end or stay in this state forever.

2. Alteration of sensitivity

Due to its analgesic effects, phencyclidine produces numerous alterations of touch and proprioception . After consumption, it is possible that the touch is numb and that sensations that before could be painful become tolerable or even pleasant. It is possible for one to feel that one's own body does not weigh, as if it were made of foam and were just as light.

3. Altered motor skills

The movements of people affected by phencyclidine are slow and slow . Even if you feel that your body does not weigh, it is very difficult to move it and it is done very slowly. Extremities can become numb and speech can become mushy. Consonants are dragged and in general articulating can be very complicated. Many times, because you do not perceive your own weight well and everything seems to go slower, the movement of these people when moving is very exaggerated and it seems that they do it in slow motion.

4. Eye alterations

With the consumption of phencyclidine it is easy to observe eye phenomena that are very characteristic . The usual thing is that the person under the effects of phencyclidine seems to be looking at the void, to have a lost look even if it is actually present. In addition, involuntary and rapid movements of the eyes can appear, similar to those that happen in the REM phase while we sleep, but less frequent and exaggerated.

5. Hallucinations and distortions

At certain doses it is perfectly normal to suffer hallucinations, especially of the auditory type . Voices that speak, voices that talk among themselves, etc., are the hallucinations that characterize schizophrenic patients. Sometimes it is practically impossible to differentiate the hallucinations of these patients with those who have consumed phencyclidine. In addition to hallucinations, visual perceptual distortions can occur.

6Emotional alterations

Consumption can produce high anxiety during and after having the psychoactive effects of the drug . In some cases the person who consumes may experience extreme anxiety that can lead to the edge of an anxiety crisis. In addition, due to the alteration in the production of amines, the mood can also vary. In the same way that you can experience euphoria and a feeling of being invincible, there are periods in which the individual feels such a psychic slump that can recreate the characteristics of an authentic major depressive episode.

7. Undesirable physiological effects

In addition to the described alterations that can be searched or not, phencyclidine causes a series of changes in physiological functioning that can be very unpleasant , especially in high consumption. Blood pressure drops occur that can end in fainting, decreased heart rate and respiratory depression. This can be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness and feeling that everything is spinning, drooling and a complete loss of balance.

In very high doses or dangerous interactions seizures, coma and even death can occur through an accident caused by the effects of phencyclidine, such as motor clumsiness or the sensation of invulnerability.


PCP (Phencyclidine): What You Need To Know (November 2022).


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