Club drugs or designer drugs are substances that are created by changing the chemical structure of a preexisting drug that’s usually used for recreational purposes. Designer drugs like bath salts are constantly changing their ingredients and names to avoid legal detection. Over the years, designer drugs have grown more popular, and new ones are constantly emerging in the drug market. With this constant introduction of new substances, there are lots of answered questions, starting with: is PCP a designer drug?
What Does PCP Do?
Phencyclidine (PCP) is a mind-altering drug that produces side effects like hallucinations or perceptions of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or smelling things that aren’t there. PCP, also called angel dust, is considered to be a dissociative drug, meaning it distorts users’ perception of sights, colors, sounds, self, and environment. The drug was first developed in the 1950s for medical use as an intravenous anesthetic, but due to its serious impact on perception, it was discontinued for medical use.
In its purest form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and has a distinct bitter taste. As with other substances, PCP contains a number of cutting agents or contaminants, causing the color to range from light to dark brown with a powdery to gummy texture. These additives can also make PCP effects unpredictable and increase the likelihood of neurotoxicity.
PCP is an anesthetic and painkiller, meaning it can produce a sedative and dreamlike experience in which a user may feel as if they’re floating or numb. It can also change your mood and the way you feel in unpredictable ways. Considering that the drug also produces hallucinations, users may also experience paranoia and anxiety.
PCP Is a Designer Drug: What Does That Mean?
So, PCP is a designer drug, but what does this mean? Also known as club drugs, designer drugs are synthetic or manmade versions of legally restricted or prohibited drugs designed to avoid legal detection. When one type of designer is discovered by legal authorities, it’s soon replaced with a new one. PCP or angel dust is another drug that was created to mimic the effects of a legal one. Although it’s different from other designer drugs in that it was originally intended for medical purposes, PCP shares other similarities with this group of substances.
For instance, like MDMA, GHB, and roofies, PCP can be found in parties, clubs, music festivals, and other similar social settings. People take these angel dust and similar substances while partying or socializing because they’re known to increase empathy and impair judgment, enhancing certain social interactions. Unfortunately, these are the same reasons why these drugs are so dangerous. When it comes to GHB and Rohypnol (roofies) in particular, date rape – or sexual assault in which the victim is drugged – is more likely to occur, along with other accidents and injuries.
Common Side Effects of PCP
So what does PCP do to the mind and body? Although many believe that designer drugs are safe or non-addictive, this isn’t the case. Not only can drugs like PCP result in addiction, but long-term abuse can also lead to various health problems.
Short-Term Effects of PCP
With psychedelic properties, angel dust effects can vary from person to person. However, the drug is usually associated with agitation, violent behavior, and psychosis. When ingested, PCP also affects the production of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and glutamate, all of which are neurotransmitters that can impact mood and various physical functions.
As a result of its impact on the brain, people under the influence of PCP may also experience reduced pain, memory impairment, emotional regulation, and cognitive impairment. In short doses, PCP may act as a stimulant, causing a spike in heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature. However, in higher doses, it can have the opposite effect.
Common short-term effects of PCP (angel dust) include:
- Distorted sounds and visuals (hallucinations)
- Feelings of detachment or dissociation
- Impaired coordination and reaction time
- Reduced sensation of pain
- Irritability and mood swings
- Numbness in the arms and legs
- Rapid eye movements, blank stares, or bloodshot eyes
- Disorientation and confusion
- Bizarre, aggressive, or violent behaviors
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Exaggerated strength and confidence
- Impaired memory
- Cold sweats
- Rigid or limp muscles
- Irregular heartbeat
People under the influence of PCP often display poor judgment and reasoning, which increases the risk of violent behavior and injury. Moreover, the drug has been reported to produce feelings of “superhuman strength” or the delusion of invincibility – dangerous beliefs to have when you’re under the influence of a drug.
If you’ve been a long-term angel dust user, our medical detox in Pennsylvania can help you safely and comfortably recover from withdrawal symptoms. These mark a physical dependence on a drug and can be uncomfortable and often painful to recover from without medical assistance.
Long-Term Effects of PCP
While there’s limited research on the long-term effects of angel dust abuse, the longer a person uses the drug, the more likely they are to experience some negative side effects. Common long-term effects of PCP abuse include:
- Suicidal ideation and behavior
- Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression
- Isolation from loved ones
- Memory loss or amnesia
- Stutters or difficulty speaking
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping the use of the drug (cravings, sweating, chills, confusion, depression)
- Flashbacks to hallucinations experienced while under the influence of the drug
Furthermore, PCP is also known to produce serious muscle contractions, which can not only be painful but lead to poor posture and strange movements. These movements and contractions can also contribute to kidney damage.
Help for PCP Addiction
Club drugs like angel dust are not only addictive, but they’re also highly dangerous. Because they’re mostly used in club settings, designer drugs lead to dehydration, which users usually neglect because they’re distracted by their environment and socializing. These individuals often end up in the emergency room or die due to this complication.
Addiction and long-term drug use can also impact a person’s life in other ways, including their relationships and performance at school and work. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug abuse, our PA drug rehab can help.
Clearbrook Treatment Centers offers residential treatment and other levels of care to help people recover from the impact of drugs and alcohol on their physical health, mental health, and relationships. We also offer an alumni program to ensure that our clients have support to help them transition to a sober lifestyle after rehab.