PCP (phencyclidine) also known as angel dust in the 70s has again become trendy among drug users who want more than the usual euphoric or mind-numbing experience. But the quest for hallucinations and psychotic trips often leave these drug thrill seekers strapped to gurneys in emergency rooms, crisis centers and psychiatric wards. Many PCP users are like Michelle whose drug use had opened a door that they often find they cannot close without professional drug intervention “I was on this never ending roller-coaster ride of using to make myself feel happy but instead, I lost my marriage, my kids and most of all, l I lost myself” Michelle said. Read more about Michelle’s PCP drug story.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), PCP was originally introduced and used as an intravenous anesthetic medication in the 1950s. Because of the high incidence of dissociative hallucinations produced by this drug, it was pulled from the market in 1965. By 1978, recreational use of PCP was so prevalent that it was described in People Magazine as the America’s number on drug problem. Later, after a heavily publicized story about “Big Lurch” a former rapper whose use of PCP was linked to his conviction for murdering and cannibalizing his roommate and a series of other disturbing incidents associated with this drug, use declined. However, in the last two decades, the use of PCP has been gradually increasing among young adults. illicit manufactures make synthetic versions of PCP available to recreational users.
Today, PCP has segued into a new market with a new administration mechanism and a catchy name that has both law enforcement and health professionals concerned. “Wet” the current popular name for PCP describe today’s innovative method of consuming this drug. Cigarettes are soaked in powdered PCP that has been dissolved in liquid then smoked. The drug also comes from drug dealers as crushed mint leaves that are soaked in PCP and packaged in dime bags. According to law enforcement, younger users are the emerging demographic that is most affected by this new wave of PCP frenzy. A PCP or “Wet” overdose can cause body temperature to spike resulting in a physical sensation of burning up.
A common sign of a PCP overdose is excessive sweating that often cause the individual to strip off their clothing in an attempt to cool down. Encounters with people during these episodes as recounted by police offers is that these individuals display enormous strength that makes them difficult to restrain. The psychotic effect also causes people to engage in extremely violent and dangerous behavior that put themselves and others at risk. According to one PCP user, chronic use of this drug took a heavy psychological toll that continued to affect him long after halting use.
According to Dr. John McCafferty, Inpatient Director of the psychiatric unit at Einstein Hospital in New York, PCP users are typically so psychotic that they are unable to provide any information to help diagnose their condition when they are first brought into the emergency room. Also, they can stay in a catatonic state for days as opposed to other drug users that can be stabilized more quickly. The NIDA warn that PCP is an addictive substance that can lead to psychological dependence, obsessive cravings and compulsive drug seeking and use. But despite the scary and negative reactions, there is treatment available for people battling addiction or chronic use of PCP. The first step is to recognize the dangers associated with using this drug and seek help to safely detox so that the rehabilitation process can ensue.
People going through PCP detoxification can experience severe withdrawals symptoms that has the potential to escalate into a life-threatening situation. As such, medical supervision is always highly recommended while trying to stop habitual use of this drug. Treatment after the detox process is completed and the patient is stabilized may include pharmacological intervention along with various evidence-based therapies. Based on a number of variables, options for treatment can also include a short or long term residential care or an intensive outpatient recovery process. Aftercare programs such as staying at a transitional living facility, participating in a 12-step program, individual counseling, support groups or having a sponsor help to provide ongoing assistance to prevent a relapse. In some instances, patients may need to participate in multiple treatment programs to achieve full recovery and sustainable sobriety.
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