PCP Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

Table of Contents

PCP addiction can quickly and easily develop.

In the 1950s, PCP (phencyclidine) was formulated as an intravenous anesthetic. Its application in human patients was discontinued due to its tendency to induce agitation, delusions, and irrational behaviors. PCP is frequently abused by individuals seeking its mind-altering and hallucinogenic effects. Read on to learn more about the following issues:

  • How is PCP addictive?
  • How addictive is PCP?
  • Can you get addicted to PCP?
  • How to treat PCP addiction?

Is PCP Addictive?

Dissociative substances like PCP interfere with the function of a brain neurotransmitter known as glutamate, which is involved in regulating emotions, pain perception, and cognitive processes. Beyond this, PCP can influence the activities of dopamine, contributing to the sensation of euphoria commonly associated with drugs of abuse.

Although the long-term impacts of using dissociative substances like PCP have not been extensively studied, it is believed that the sustained consumption of PCP can result in tolerance and dependence, possibly leading to a withdrawal syndrome when usage is discontinued. Additionally, it may contribute to the development of a substance use disorder (addiction), a chronic condition marked by compulsive use despite adverse effects on the person.

A woman with her hands on her face, feeling the symptoms of pcp addiction

PCP Addiction Signs

Signs of a PCP addict may include:

  • Physical deterioration: Manifesting physical deterioration, such as significant weight loss, poor hygiene, or neglected physical appearance, as a result of persistent PCP abuse.
  • Reckless behavior: Engaging in reckless or dangerous behaviors while under the influence of PCP, such as participating in risky activities that jeopardize personal safety or the well-being of others.
  • Mood swings: Exhibiting rapid and extreme mood swings, ranging from euphoria and elation to profound agitation or aggression, often unrelated to external circumstances.
  • Paranoia and delusions: Displaying heightened levels of paranoia, suspicion, or unfounded beliefs, often accompanied by hallucinations or delusional thinking induced by PCP use.
  • Isolation from loved ones: Withdrawal from social connections or avoidance of loved ones and family members, resulting in social isolation and a decline in interpersonal relationships.
  • Financial instability: Experiencing financial difficulties or instability due to excessive spending on PCP or related activities, leading to financial strain or debt.
  • Legal troubles: Involvement in legal complications or entanglements, including arrests or legal charges, stemming from behavior influenced by PCP-induced impulsivity or altered perceptions.

PCP Addiction Symptoms

DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) lists the following symptoms for PCP addiction (hallucinogen use disorder):

  1. Consumption of phencyclidine often surpasses initially intended amounts or durations.
  2. Persistent attempts to cut down or regulate PCP use prove unsuccessful.
  3. Substantial time is devoted to tasks related to the acquisition, consumption, or recuperation from the effects of phencyclidine.
  4. Experiencing strong cravings to use phencyclidine.
  5. Recurring PCP use leads to an inability to meet significant obligations at work, school, or home, often resulting in absenteeism, diminished performance, or neglect of responsibilities.
  6. Continual use of PCP persists despite the presence of persistent or recurring social or interpersonal issues exacerbated by its effects, such as arguments or physical altercations.
  7. Reduction or abandonment of important activities due to phencyclidine use.
  8. Recurrent use of PCP in physically hazardous situations, such as operating machinery or driving under its influence.
  9. Continuation of phencyclidine use despite awareness of persistent or recurring physical or psychological health problems likely caused or worsened by the drug.
  10. Tolerance, as evidenced by either a pronounced need for notably increased amounts of PCP to achieve the initial effects or a marked reduction in its effects despite continued use of the same quantity.

Withdrawal symptoms and signs have not been definitively established for phencyclidine, and therefore this criterion does not apply. Withdrawal from phencyclidine has been observed in animals, but it has not been documented in humans.

PCP Addiction Treatment

Treating PCP addiction involves a comprehensive approach that addresses the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. Several effective treatment strategies can help people overcome PCP addiction and regain control over their lives.

Medical detoxification

The first step in treating PCP addiction normally involves a medically supervised detoxification process. This allows individuals to safely discontinue the use of PCP. Medical professionals can provide necessary support and monitoring to ensure a safe and comfortable detoxification experience.

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapies, such as CM (contingency management) and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), can help people understand the underlying causes of their addiction and develop healthier coping mechanisms. These therapies also assist in identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction.

Support groups

Participation in support groups, such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery, can provide individuals with valuable peer support and encouragement throughout their recovery journey. Sharing experiences with others facing similar challenges can foster a sense of community and understanding.

Medication-assisted treatment

While there are no approved pharcalogical treatments for PCP addiction, certain medications may be used to manage specific symptoms or co-occurring mental health conditions during the recovery process.

Aftercare programs

Continuing care through aftercare programs, which may include ongoing therapy, support group participation, and regular follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals, can help people maintain long-term sobriety and prevent relapse. Building a strong support network and implementing healthy lifestyle changes are integral components of aftercare programs.

Consulting with healthcare professionals or addiction specialists can help individuals create a tailored treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and supports their journey toward recovery from PCP addiction.

an image of Columbus, Ohio, representing the opportunity for PCP addiction treatment

Get Treatment for PCP Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you have developed an addiction to PCP, we treat all types of drug addictions at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH.

We offer a variety of outpatient treatment programs, including IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) that enable you to engage with effective addiction treatment while still fulfilling your personal and professional obligations. All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs provide a customized blend of science-backed and holistic interventions, as well as a comprehensive aftercare component. For immediate assistance fighting PCP addiction, call 877-679-2132.

Table of Contents

an image of author Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn