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First synthesized in 1926, Phencyclidine, commonly initialized as PCP, is a recreational dissociative drug. Because of its adverse side effects such as hallucinations, mania, delirium, and disorientation, PCP was no longer approved for medical use and was shelved in the 1950's. PCP began to emerge as a recreational drug in major cities in the United States in 1967.

PCP is a Schedule II illegal substance in the United States, a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Drugs and Substances act in Canada, a List I drug of the Opium Law in the Netherlands and a Class A substance in the United Kingdom.

PCP is a dissasociative drug; a class of psychoactive drugs which produces hallucinogenic effects which may include sensory deprivation, dissociation, hallucinations, and dream-like states or trances.

PCP comes in both powder and liquid forms, and is typically sprayed onto leafy material such as cannabis, mint, oregano, parsley, or ginger leaves and then smoked. PCP can also be administered by intravenous injection, snorted, added as eye drops and ingested orally or absorbed transdermally. PCP is often administered or mixed with other drugs such as crack cocaine, cocaine hydrochloride and marijuana.

A typical light dose of PCP consists of 3-5 mg; a common dose is 5-10 mg; while a strong dose is greater than 10 mg. Lighter doses of PCP are usually smoked, intravenously or intranasally administered. Larger doses of PCP are commonly ingested orally. Onset of effects is very rapid when smoked or injected, within 1-5 minutes, and are delayed when snorted or orally ingested, followed by a gradual decline of major effects over 4-6 hours. A return to "normal" can take as long as 24 hours. Individuals intravenously administering PCP regain consciousness within 10-60 minutes of injecting the drug, followed be a prolonged recovery period of 3-18 hours. Long-term psychological effects are possible when using PCP, and the drug may precipitate a psychotic reaction lasting a month or more that clinically appears like schizophrenia.

Street preparations of PCP have highly variable concentrations of PCP and byproducts. PCC, the PCP precursor, is found in approximately 20% of illicit samples and is more toxic than PCP as it releases cyanide.

The effects of PCP depend on the amount administered but may include euphoria, calmness, feelings of strength and invulnerability, lethargy, disorientation, loss of coordination, distinct changes in body awareness, distorted sensory perceptions, impaired concentration, disordered thinking, illusions and hallucinations, agitation, combativeness or violence, memory loss, bizarre behavior, sedation, and stupor.

PCP may induce feelings of strength, power, and invulnerability and occasionally lead to bizarre acts of violence. PCP use may also cause the individual to be involved self-injury including suicide, and attacks on others or destruction of property. The analgesic properties of PCP can cause individuals to feel less pain, and involve themselves in violent or injurious acts as a result.

PCP users may experience a rise in blood pressure and heart rate, flushing, profuse sweating, generalized numbness of extremities, blurred vision, grimacing facial expression, speech difficulties, ataxia, muscular incoordination, marked analgesia, nystagmus, and anesthesia. In the anesthetized state, the PCP user is conscious with a staring gaze and rigid muscles.

The side effects which PCP users may experience are excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, amnesia, combativeness, severe anxiety, paranoia, flashbacks, seizures, coma, and death. PCP can simulate schizophrenic-like symptoms and catatonic states. Long periods of PCP use may lead to memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, depression, weight loss and loss of liver function. These symptoms can last up to a year after cessation of use.

Upon abrupt cessation of PCP, users may experience physical distress, lack of energy, and depression. PCP has the potential to be addictive and use can lead to psychological dependence, craving and drug seeking behavior.