Printer Friendly

Phencyclidine = PCP = peace pill.


Phencyclidine, primarily a central nervous system depressant, is the active ingredient of the drug called "Angel Dust."(*) Chemically it is (1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl)-piperidine) from which the acronym "PCP" was derived. It was first synthesized in 1957 by a reputable pharmaceutical manufacturing company, granted British Patent No. 836,083 in 1960, and given the brand name of Sernyl. The United States assigned to it Patent No. 3,097,136. In the pure form it is a white crystalline powder of molecular weight 243.43 and chemical formula N-C17-H25. Its hydrochloride salt is a white stable solid, soluble in water or alcohol.

Preliminary research revealed two valuable possible uses for the drug. When administered to animals and humans it produced analgesia and anesthesia. There also developed certain side effects for many users including excitement, agitation, disorientation, delirium, and hallucinations that lasted from a short time to hours -- with some effects occasionally continuing for days.


By 1965 clinical investigations for human use were discontinued. In 1967 the hydrochloride of phencyclidine became commercially available in liquid form under the brand name "Sernylan" for use in veterinary medicine only.

Phencyclidine was first reported in San Francisco as a "street" drug during the 1960's. It was illegally peddled as the "PeaCe Pill." The use of PCP gained a great deal of popularity after it was initially introduced in the illicit street trade. Its popularity gradually waned with the drug community because of its potential for producing physical and psychical reactions associated with "bad trips." It is true many have used PCP unaware of any physical or mental damage and without becoming involved in a tragic situation. However, everyone needs to become aware of all potential dangers -- and there are many. The facts related here are not "scare tactics" but are accurate findings and happenings needed to evaluate this drug and determine your personal rejection.


The fact of having used PCP repeatedly without obvious serious adverse effect is no guarantee that more serious consequences will not occur unexpectedly on a given occasion of use. At least one group of clinical investigators (Burns and Lerner 1978) believe that if use is persistent, ultimately adverse consequences are virtually inevitable. Instances have been encountered where PCP used repetitively appears to result in severe impairment of mental functioning and organic brain dysfunction.

Even in the interval between PCP trips, impulse controls might be loosened. This will be manifested by emotional outbursts in school or at home, tantrums, easily aroused assaultiveness, and uncontrolled belligerence. Car accidents or criminal acts may occur. Often users experience a sense of increased strength, even associating it with God-like power. Thus they become extremely dangerous to everyone, and many have lost their lives in just being necessarily subdued.


Hospitalized patients admitted for emergency treatment of phencyclidine induced bizarre behavior are likely to be mis-diagnosed because the presenting symptoms so often closely resemble those of an acute schizophrenic episode. Patients admitted because of injuries from automobile accidents, fires, and other causes -- although the result of phencyclidine intoxication -- may also be improperly diagnosed. Drownings and the other deaths resulting from phencyclidine intoxication can easily go undetected unless a specific search for the drug in the victim's body is conducted. There is some clinical evidence that those who used PCP in the past may later develop more persistent schizophrenia despite months of abstinence from it.



The two most common forms of using PCP are leafy substances sprayed for smoking, and the powder which is most often snorted. Duration of the effects vary considerably. Inhalations of a burning PCP loaded cigarette results in reactions within one to five minutes that reach a high point in fifteen to thirty minutes. If the drug is sniffed into the nasal passages, effects occur quickly -- thirty to sixty seconds. The user may become euphoric or agitated. At times he or she may become combative and self-destructive. Pain and touch perceptions are reduced. The user exhibits a blank stare and lapses into a catetonic state, unable to function. The high may go on for as long as six hours, with the user in a fantasy world, unable to communicate. At the peak of the high, however, the user may become overly talkative. This is followed by depression and glum silence. Complete normalcy may not fully return until twenty four to forty eight hours elapse. During the "coming down" period suicide has been reported six to twenty four hours after taking PCP. Some users continue in a confused state for a much longer period, even though no more of this drug is taken. A heavy dosage of phencyclidine induces anesthesia, even though individuals may appear to be awake, with eyes open. Those under heavy dosage will usually be quite stuporous or in a coma, and major convulsions are a possibility.


The Los Angeles County USC Medical Center reports: "One of the really scary things about PCP is the wide range of potency in the two commonly used forms. The people (mostly teenagers and in their early twenties) involved with this drug, from the makers to the users, don't know how strong it is and have no way of finding out -- except in a general way by trial (use) and error." This may well be the reason we are faced with so many drug induced automobile accidents, health impairments, and untimely deaths.

PCP Use Causes Abnormalities

At a conference on environmental mutagens it was reported that PCP has been found to be teratogenic; "Users of phencyclidine had increased rates of fetal loss, decreased fertility, extensive chromosome breakage, and increased presence of a small chromosome that resembled the Philadelphia chromosome. Their offspring had an abnormally large incidence of spinal defects, limb reduction anomalies, triploidy, and trisomy." F. Walker 1st Int'l Conference Environmental Mutagens Phencyclidine used with alcohol, barbiturates, etc., results in synergistic action, dangerously increasing the total drug potency. There are over 30 chemically similar analogs of phencyclidine. Some are more potent and toxic. Ignorance and carelessness may result in missynthesis plus other impurities, including potassium cyanide, being in a batch of PCP. These contaminants can cause abdominal cramps, bloody emesis, coma, and death.

(*) Angel Dust is composed of the leaves of parsley, mint, or other foliage on which PCP has been sprinkled. It has a dark greenish-black color and can often be recognized by a fishy or minty odor. Angel Dust is usually rolled into joints (cigarettes) for smoking. There is no uniformity in the potency of this substance. Los Angeles County USC Medical Center analyzes thousands of drug samples, and have reported a "range of .1 to 161.1 mg. PCP per joint." This reveals the wide variation in potency which may endanger a user, especially a novice. A dose of 20 mg. causes prolonged hallucinations and psychosis, endangering users.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Narcotic Educational Foundation of America
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Pamphlet by: Narcotic Educational Foundation of America
Article Type:pamphlet
Date:Jun 20, 1991
Previous Article:Some things you should know about prescription drugs.
Next Article:Inhalants (breathable chemicals).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters