Chronic PCP use can result in dependence. The PCP withdrawal timeline will depend on various specifics, such as the use of the drug and personal factors. It’s imperative to get professional assistance with this process to ensure safety and prevent relapse.

Withdrawal: What To Expect

Because of its high potential for misuse, people who use PCP regularly may experience withdrawal. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation states that withdrawal occurs when a person completely quits or cuts back on drug use.

Someone who is physically and/or psychologically dependent on a substance is suddenly detoxing from this substance, and their body has to figure out how to work without it.

Psychology Today also mentions that PCP causes withdrawal because it affects parts of the brain that deal with emotions, learning, memory, and perception of pain. It also changes the way dopamine works when PCP is taken. This hormone is what causes a feeling of euphoria.

Women who are pregnant and use PCP may also create a dependency on their unborn children. As stated by ScienceDirect, newborns can experience withdrawal from the drug.

The most common symptoms of withdrawal from PCP include:

PCP Withdrawal Symptoms

  •  Cravings
  •  Depression
  •  Increased appetite
  •  Increased desire to sleep
  •  Headaches

Because the brain changes with drug use, PCP withdrawal often results in symptoms that are opposite of the drug’s desirable effects.

Currently, estimates for how long withdrawal will last after quitting or cutting back on PCP have not been officially established by research studies. How long withdrawal lasts depends on:

  • Isolation in a quiet area that is free of distractions
  • The use of physical restraints if people are a danger to themselves or others
  • Naloxone to treat lessened breathing
  • Valium for stiff muscles
  • Treatments that make urine more acid to encourage excretion

A person should seek medical assistance to facilitate detox. They should be prepared for withdrawal symptoms but can rest assured that they will be medically supported throughout the process.

History of PCP

Phencyclidine, better known as PCP, was first invented for use in anesthesia, but doctors stopped using it on people in 1965. Today, PCP is illegal in the United States. Though it is not the most popular substance on the market today, the drug is still widely available. However, it is only available through unlawful means.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that PCP is known by many names, such as Angel Dust, Love Boat, Peace Pill, and Hog.

Most commonly sold as a white powder, PCP may also be found as a tablet or pill. It can also be mixed into drinks in powder form.

Psychology Today states that PCP is in the family of hallucinogens. Drugs like this cause users to have a very different perception of the world. A person who takes PCP might experience:

Side Effects Of PCP Use

  •  Visual or auditory hallucinations
  •  Disconnection between their mind and body
  •  Delusions of grandeur

PCP is habit-forming. Consistently using the substance can also cause tolerance, which means a person will need higher doses of the drug to get its desired pleasurable effects. Quitting PCP use suddenly or not taking it for some time could result in withdrawal symptoms.

Statistics on PCP Use

Unlike prescription medication or other controlled substances, PCP can only be found through illicit means. This makes it hard to keep track of who buys the drugs.


A study in The CBHSQ Report published a compilation of statistics using data from emergency rooms in major cities around the United States. They found the following trends among visits to emergency rooms between 2005 and 2011 that are related to PCP:

  • Emergency room visits because of PCP went up by more than 400 percent.
  • Visits spiked between 2009 and 2011.
  • In 2011, half of emergency room visits included people who used PCP along with other substances.
  • In 2011, of this group that visited the emergency room because of PCP, 69 percent were men.
  • In 45 percent of these cases, individuals were between 25 and 34 years old.

Detoxing from PCP: How to Find Treatment

People take drugs recreationally for different reasons, and getting help means getting to the bottom of these motivations. Those who want help to quit PCP can look for the following qualifications so that they can find the best treatment options, according to guidelines from the NIDA:

Individualized approach: A good treatment center will assess everyone who comes in and create a plan based on their individual needs.

Treatment for co-occurring disorders: Some people may have undiagnosed mental health conditions, and they may have started taking drugs to manage these issues. Look for a treatment center equipped to treat co-occurring disorders.

A holistic approach: Treating the whole person involves assisting them in vocational, legal, and social issues. Treatment centers take a person’s gender, age, and culture into account when coming up with their plans.

therapy session

Medical assistance: This allows treatment centers to offer detox and medical monitoring. Assistance may include the use of medication to assist with recovery or decrease the discomfort of withdrawal.

Therapy: Cognitive, behavioral, individual, family, and group therapy are key to recovery. Though clients will not engage in all of these types of therapy, having these methods available will allow them to find what is best for them. Peer support groups have also been proven to assist with staying away from drugs.

Continuous assessment: Individual needs often change as treatment continues. Plans must be modified to fit these new needs or demands.

Assistance if relapse occurs: Relapse does not mean a person is unfit for recovery or that they have failed. Treatment centers must offer assistance when relapse happens.

Health screenings during intake: People who misuse drugs habitually expose themselves to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Treatment programs must screen for these issues to ensure they are appropriately addressed in the overall care plan.

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