Addicted to Angel Dust: Recognizing PCP Withdrawal Symptoms

Last Updated: Jun 19th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Addicted to Angel Dust: Recognizing PCP Withdrawal Symptoms

Angel dust, also known as PCP,  is an illegal, mind-altering substance that poses a substantial risk to your physical and mental health. Addiction and dangerous PCP withdrawal effects are always a possibility, especially if you use large amounts, or if you take the drug for an extended period. Angel dust is an unpredictable drug, and it’s impossible to know precisely how it will affect you. Even first-time users can experience a variety of frightening and life threatening PCP side-effects. 

What is Angel Dust, Commonly Known as the Drug PCP? 

Angel dust is simply a street name for PCP (phencyclidine). Other names for PCP include wack, crystal, boat, hog, shermans, rocket fuel, DOA, peace pill, ozone, tic tac, supergrass, trank, kools, black dust, cliffhanger, and others.

History of PCP

PCP is a dissociative drug, which means it can make you feel detached from your body. The drug was discovered in the 1920s, introduced as an anesthetic for surgery in the 1950s, and was also used by veterinarians as an animal tranquilizer. Use of PCP was discontinued in 1965, after it became apparent that it triggered severe side effects, including agitation, psychosis, and irrational or violent behavior. 

Today, PCP is a popular, inexpensive street drug abused for its many mind-altering qualities. Currently, the most common way to use the drug is by smoking marijuana, tobacco, parsley, mint, oregano dusted with PCP, which is a white, crystalline powder. Alternatively, leafy substances may be soaked in a liquid consisting of PCP powder dissolved in water, alcohol, or some cases, formaldehyde or a flammable solvent. It can also be snorted or taken in tablet or capsule form, or more rarely, by injection.

Is PCP Addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) has classified PCP as a Schedule II drug, which means it is a dangerous substance with a high potential for abuse, and that it can lead to severe addiction and withdrawal when the drug is stopped. PCP withdrawal symptoms may include diarrhea, sweating, chills, headaches, and tremors. 

PCP is entirely synthetic (manmade), unlike heroin and other drugs that originate with plants. It is manufactured in clandestine labs, and unsuspecting buyers may purchase PCP laced with LSD, ketamine, mescaline, methamphetamine, or other substances without knowing it. Similarly, drugs sold as MDMA (molly) or ecstasy may contain PCP.  

Angel Dust Effects on the Body

Angel dust side effects kick in within a few minutes when PCP is smoked, and generally last four to six hours. Tablets or pills generally take effect in an hour or less and last between six and 24 hours. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, traces of PCP can remain in your body for up to eight days if you use the drug occasionally, or up to a month if you are a chronic user.  

PCP Side Effects

PCP/angel dust side effects vary from person to person, and like most mind-altering drugs, PCP may act as a depressant, stimulant, or painkiller, depending on how it was used and how much was taken. PCP is also a hallucinogenic drug, but the effects are different than the visual hallucinations typically experienced by LSD users. PCP may cause pleasant sensations, relaxation, and drowsiness, but it can also result in distorted, terrifying body images. 

Short-term angel dust side effects may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Sweating and flushing
  • Numbness in fingers and toes
  • Sensations of weightlessness
  • Distorted sense of time and space
  • Obsession with small, trivial details
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of immediate death
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Elevated temperature
  • Drop or rise in blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision, watery eyes
  • Staring into space
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooling
  • Dizziness
  • Severe muscle contractions
  • Feelings of incredible power and strength, 
  • Intense emotions and mood swings

Many long-term effects and PCP withdrawal symptoms may go away when you stop using the drug, but others can last several weeks or even longer. Effects of long-term PCP use may include:

  • Extended periods of sleeplessness, followed by long periods of deep, intense sleep
  • Rocking or other repetitive motions
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Speech difficulties
  • Hearing sounds and voices
  • Social withdrawal
  • Twitches
  • Eyes jitter back and forth
  • Flashbacks
  • Severe anxiety and depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Extreme agitation
  • Aggression, hostility, and violence
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • High fever
  • Respiratory failure
  • Strokes
  • Coma
  • Death (often due to suicide or accidents that occur while under the influence of PCP)

Angel Dust/PCP Overdoses 

The extreme effects caused by use of PCP and/or PCP withdrawal, including violent or aggressive behavior, often lead to emergency room visits and legal problems. An overdose can result in death from hyperthermia, breathing problems, and failure of the liver and kidneys. 

How to Treat PCP Addiction

If you’re ready to stop using angel dust/PCP, the first step is medically monitored detox. It’s essential to have professional support during the detox process because PCP withdrawal symptoms can be frightening and dangerous. Stopping PCP isn’t something you should attempt on your own. 

Although there are no specific medications for PCP withdrawal treatment, a doctor can prescribe meds to help with symptoms such as headaches, nausea, severe anxiety, or depression. You’ll be monitored around the clock to ensure detox is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Once the toxins safely leave your body, generally after a few days, you can begin addiction treatment, which will help you learn new life skills, change negative behaviors, and cope with stressful situations. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, inpatient treatment can be a tremendous source of help and support.

Are You Ready to Make Some Serious Lifestyle Changes?

If you’re ready to stop using angel dust/PCP, we encourage you to seek substance abuse treatment as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information. We can answer any questions or concerns you may have about addiction, PCP withdrawal treatment, and the effects of angel dust on your body and mind. 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.