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Signs & Symptoms of PCP Abuse | Boca Recovery Center

Signs and symptoms of PCP abuse include hostile behavior, anger, paranoia, hallucinations, dizziness, and mood swings, among others.

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Since PCP is illegal in the United States, any use of this drug is abuse.

Why Is PCP Abused?

People abuse PCP in an attempt to experience euphoria and other positive effects, such as these feelings:[1]

  • Superhuman strength
  • Power
  • Sexual prowess
  • Self-confidence

The drug is known on the street as angel dust, and it’s available as a powder, tablet, liquid, and crystal.

What Are Common Signs & Symptoms of PCP Abuse?

The higher the level of use, the more intense and varied the symptoms tend to be. These are common signs and symptoms of PCP abuse:[1-3] 

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing or very shallow and abnormal respiratory patterns
  • Excessive sweating
  • Elevated heart rate
  • The feeling of numbness, particularly in the limbs
  • Seizure
  • Dissociation (feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings)
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Strong feelings of fear and anxiety 
  • Confusion
  • Problems with mood regulation 
  • Feeling that things are not real
  • Risk-taking, increased impulsivity, and increased sensation-seeking behaviors
  • Decline in self-care behaviors 
  • Withdrawal from social situations 
  • Aggression and hostility

What Are the Dangers of PCP?

There are many risks associated with the use of PCP. While most problems compound with longer periods of use and higher doses, risks are present even if you only take the drug once.

Here are some of the dangers associated with PCP: 

  • Short-term physical response: PCP can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure. These conditions can increase the likelihood of a cardiovascular event. Seizures and loss of consciousness are also possible.[4] PCP overdose can occur. 
  • Psychological risks: PCP can cause severe cognitive impairment, resulting in significantly decreased judgment and decision-making ability. Since the use of the drug can lead to a distorted sense of reality, it can be very dangerous as users engage in unsafe activities.
  • Violence and aggression: PCP can increase the risk of violence and other aggressive behaviors. This creates safety risks for the user and surrounding individuals. The direct link between PCP use and violence is not fully clear, but PCP users are more likely to engage in partner violence.[5,6]
  • Long-term health risks: If consumed chronically, PCP can cause severe damage to many bodily systems and organs, especially the liver and kidneys.[1] 

PCP Overdose

High doses of PCP can lead to severe symptoms, such as seizures and loss of consciousness, potentially leading to coma.[7] Death from PCP overdose is rare, but it can occur.

Most often, PCP overdose is treated with supportive care. In severe cases, sedation may be required if the patient is very agitated.[7]

Following PCP overdose, it’s important to enter treatment to address the underlying abuse issue. Without therapy, another overdose is likely to occur in the future, and this could lead to more substantial consequences the next time.

Updated November 6, 2023
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