PCP (Angel Dust): Effects, Hazards, Myths, and How to Get Help

Once a popular drug of abuse in the 1980s, PCP has reemerged in the last decade. Originally used as a general anesthetic in the 1950s, it became limited to veterinary use in 1967 due to reports of hallucinations and uneasy feelings in patients after surgery. Today, veterinary medicine remains its only legal use.

What Is PCP?

Phencyclidine (PCP), commonly referred to as angel dust, is a dissociative drug that causes a feeling of detachment from reality. It is a mind-altering drug, classified as a hallucinogenic, like LSD, because it makes you see, hear, or feel things that appear real but are created by the mind.

PCP is a unique drug because it is a central nervous system depressant such as alcohol and a stimulant like Adderall. Its intoxication is described as dissociative anesthesia, feeling like you are on a form of anesthesia, but you are not entirely unconscious.

Street Names

Slang terms or street names used for PCP include:

  • Angel dust
  • Rocket fuel
  • Hog
  • Ozone
  • Whack
  • Peace pill
  • Zoom
  • Elephant

Street names for PCP mixed with marijuana include:

  • Supergrass
  • Fry
  • Lovelies
  • Dippers
  • Wets
  • Waters

Forms and Uses

PCP is available in powder, crystals, tablets, capsules, and liquid form. And with a variety of forms, it can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected.

70% of PCP users smoke it because the effects are felt within 2-5 minutes, without the risk of using a needle. It is commonly mixed with marijuana as a powder or dipped in liquid PCP. When ingested by capsule or tablet, effects take approximately 15 to 60 minutes.

pcp in capsules

PCP Effects

The effects of PCP vary significantly by the method of use and dose. They are associated with vivid hallucinations, agitation, and hysteria right after use. Its effects have a wide range of symptoms and can also last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, but up to 48.

Physical effects include:

  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Raised body temperature

Low doses can cause:

  • Numbness throughout body
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Sense of strength and feeling untouchable

Moderate doses (1 mg to 5 mg) can cause:

  • Sedative effects
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Slurred speech
  • Violent behavior
  • Blank staring
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Loss of control over bodily movements
  • Abnormally high body temperature
  • Seizures

High doses (5 mg to 10 mg) can cause:

  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Immobility
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Doses greater than 10 mg usually result in shock and coma, displayed as an unresponsive individual whose eyes remain open. However, excessively high amounts can result in sudden death.

high dose of pcp

Long term effects or long time use include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Speech difficulties
  • Violent or suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Restlessness
  • Abnormal lack of energy

What Does It Feel Like to Be On PCP?

PCP blocks NMDA receptors in the brain, responsible for function, memory, learning, and healthy brain aging. When these receptors become hindered, the side effects can be dangerously unpredictable.

PCP puts you in a trance-like state with profound feelings of euphoria and joy. You have a sense of unlimited strength and power coupled with not being afraid of anything and the inability to feel pain. Additionally, it is connected with memory loss, involuntary movements, and partial contractions of body muscles.

Why Do Drugs Like PCP Cause One to Feel Invincible?

There are a lot of widely accepted myths of PCP. For example, many people believe PCP gives you godlike strength, although it is only due to the drug’s bizarre and violent effects.

The combination of PCP’s painkilling symptoms, not allowing you to feel any pain, along with its disconnection from reality and extreme inhibition, makes people think they have superhuman strength. People on PCP have walked into traffic, jumped from buildings, and even removed a piece of their eye.

pcp user


The strange and aggressive behavior caused by PCP usually has harsh self-inflicted consequences. Most deaths linked to PCP result from the user’s violent behaviors rather than the direct effects of the drug itself. The most disturbing outcome of its violent and brutal behaviors is the user’s tendencies to self-mutilate.

How to Get Help for PCP Addiction

PCP is addictive, causing an inability to control its use. Once an addiction forms, the withdrawal symptoms can be grave. PCP withdrawal can cause several physical and psychological effects, including hallucinations, twitching, weight loss, and seizures.

Treatment starts as soon as you recognize there is a problem. Although there is no treatment specifically for PCP addiction, residential treatment with behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you understand the reason for your addiction.

If you or someone you know or love struggles with PCP addiction, contact Northridge Addiction Treatment Center. Your health and safety are our top priority in our medically supervised detox program and our scientifically backed residential treatment program. Call now to start your own unique journey to healing with NATC.

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