The proper name for PCP is phencyclidine. Like ketamine, it was originally designed to be used as an anaesthetic, but because it caused confusion and delirium its use was abandoned. PCP is now only used on animals and even then rarely. Some PCP users may be unaware they have taken the drug because it's sometimes a hidden ingredient of ecstasy and cannabis resin.
PCP is chemically related to ketamine and has the same legal status. This means that it's not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act and it's not illegal for an authorized person to possess it. However, its sale and supply are controlled under the Medicines Act and it's illegal to give it away or sell it.
PCP is stored in the body's fat cells, and therefore can never be completely eliminated. So if you take exercise or dance a lot, the drug in the fat cells will be stirred up again and your bad trip can come back, with hideous flashbacks.
PCP is a white, impure, crystalline powder. It's swallowed, snorted, smoked or - rarely - injected. Sometimes it's mixed with cannabis and tobacco and smoked like a joint, or occasionally as skinny brown roll-ups that have been dipped in liquid PCP.
- Never take PCP with other drugs.
- Don't take PCP when you're out clubbing.
- Don't take PCP if you have a history of mental illness.
- Never inject.
The PCP effect
Depending on how it's taken, the effects start in anything from a matter of seconds to about half an hour afterwards. There's a lot going on in the mind and body - it's said to be like taking amphetamine and acid, and drinking alcohol all at the same time.
- PCP acts as a stimulant, increasing body temperature, causing palpitations and boosting energy and confidence.
- But it also acts as a depressant, causing drowsiness, slurred speech, muscle rigidity and lack of co-ordination.
- On top of that, the hallucinogenic effect makes the user see and feel things that aren't really there. It can give a weird "out-of-body" experience and distorted body image.
- Because users lose their inhibitions and have a reduced sensitivity to pain, they often become AGGRESSIVE and violent.
- PCP also releases adrenaline so users become immensely strong; if they become obstreperous they often need several people to control them - and that means the police.
The PCP comedown
A PCP comedown is one of the worst. It can go on for days with alternate periods of sleeping and wakefulness, followed by memory loss of the whole episode. The after-effects of one dose can last weeks, even months, with anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia and depression.
PCP isn't addictive, but it's a horrible drug that can cause blurred vision, inability to speak or move, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, hallucinations and dehydration.
- If you're susceptible, your muscles may go into spasm and you could end up in a coma.
- People have died from prolonged fits (convulsions), a heart attack and even ruptured blood vessels in the brain as a direct result of taking PCP.
- There's a risk of permanent mental derangement from long-term use.
If something goes wrong
Ease your friend's fall and clear a space around her. Loosen clothing around her neck and put something soft under her head. When the fit stops, put her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.
Your friend may see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. Talk to him and reassure him that the things he can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over.
If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.
- Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
- If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.
PCP IS A NASTY, VICIOUS DRUG THAT CAN DAMAGE YOU PSYCHOLOGICALLY FOR LIFE