PCP (phencyclidine) use can result in physical and psychological dependence, leading to withdrawal when use is stopped. Common PCP withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, headache, muscle twitches, intestinal issues, depression, and restlessness, among others.
What Is PCP Withdrawal?
Dependence can form after consistent use of PCP, which means a withdrawal syndrome presents when use stops. Like other forms of drug withdrawal, this process is accompanied by uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous symptoms.
These factors generally increase the severity of symptoms:[1,2]
- High doses of PCP taken regularly
- Long-term use of PCP
- Use of other substances alongside PCP
- Co-occurring physical or mental health conditions
- Lack of support
PCP Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common symptoms of PCP withdrawal include the following:[1,2]
- Muscle tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid eye movements
- Excessive sweating
- Raised body temperature
- Faster heartbeat
In some cases, PCP withdrawal can trigger severe symptoms like these:
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive problems
- Extreme mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate help. Call a doctor, an addiction treatment specialist, or 911.
In some cases, withdrawal from PCP can lead to long-term issues with depression. This highlights the importance of ongoing care to manage this. Treatment may involve medication management with antidepressants as well as ongoing therapy.
Medical Detox for PCP Withdrawal
It’s best to have professional care for PCP withdrawal. This involves supportive care from a treatment team. If you opt for medical detox, your team can alleviate withdrawal symptoms, provide psychological support, and ensure you get through detox safely and comfortably.
When people go through withdrawal in a professional setting, they are much more likely to complete the withdrawal process. If you detox on your own at home without support, it’s likely you will simply relapse back to PCP use when cravings hit.
Here’s what to expect with PCP withdrawal treatment:
In the early stages of PCP withdrawal, you may be prescribed benzodiazepines to manage certain withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, tremors, and agitation. As you stabilize in withdrawal, your doses of these medications will likely be tapered until you are no longer taking them at all.
Your body is going through a lot during withdrawal. In a medical detox setting, you’ll be nurtured with a balanced, healthy diet to restore nutrients that may have been lost during active addiction. You’ll also have a comfortable and safe environment to sleep and rest.
Therapeutic work will begin during the withdrawal process. While detox is an essential part of recovery from PCP abuse, it’s just the beginning of the process. In therapy sessions, you’ll identify contributing factors that led to substance abuse, and you’ll learn how to manage life’s stressors without returning to PCP.
Various forms of therapy may be used in your addiction treatment plan. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach in addiction care that aims to change underlying thoughts to reduce participation in negative behaviors like drug misuse.
- Phencyclidine (Street Names: PCP, Angel Dust, Supergrass, Boat, Tic Tac, Zoom, Shermans). Drug Enforcement Administration. Published April 2023. Accessed September 2, 2023.
- Bey T, Patel A. Phencyclidine intoxication and adverse effects: a clinical and pharmacological review of an illicit drug. Cal J Emerg Med. 2007;8(1):9-14
- Spielewoy, C., Markou, A. Withdrawal from chronic phencyclidine treatment induces long-lasting depression in brain reward function. Neuropsychopharmacol 28, 1106–1116 (2003).
- Timko C, Schultz NR, Britt J, Cucciare MA. Transitioning from detoxification to substance use disorder treatment: Facilitators and barriers. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2016;70:64-72. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2016.07.010
- McHugh RK, Hearon BA, Otto MW. Cognitive behavioral therapy for substance use disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010;33(3):511-525. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.012