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Angel Dust (PCP): Effects and Risks

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Welcome to a detailed exploration of Angel Dust, commonly known as PCP (Phencyclidine). This powerful hallucinogenic substance carries significant implications for both physical and mental well-being. Throughout this comprehensive blog post, we aim to delve deeply into the intricacies surrounding Angel Dust. Our discussion will not only cover its effects and dangers but will also shed light on the various treatment options available for those affected by its usage. Join us on this informative journey as we unravel the complexities of Angel Dust and its impact on individuals’ health.

What Is Angel Dust (PCP)?

Phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP, is a synthetic substance sought after for the intense high it provides, leading to a sensation of detachment from the body.

This manufactured drug has a bitter taste and typically presents as a white crystalline powder, available in various forms such as tablets, capsules, powder, or liquid. In some instances, the drug may be colored differently for identification.

Functioning as a combination of a stimulant, depressant, hallucinogen, and anesthetic simultaneously, PCP elicits complex effects on the user.

PCP Street Names

Phencyclidine (PCP), commonly known as “angel dust,” is a hallucinogenic dissociative anesthetic. It goes by several street names, often used colloquially to refer to the drug in various forms or contexts. Street names for PCP include:

  1. Angel Dust: A widely recognized and commonly used street name for PCP.
  2. Rocket Fuel: Refers to the drug’s dissociative and mind-altering effects.
  3. Embalming Fluid: A term sometimes used due to the drug’s association with a feeling of detachment from reality.
  4. Wet: Often used when PCP is applied to marijuana or tobacco and then smoked.
  5. Dust: A shortened version of “angel dust.”
  6. Ozone: Used to describe the drug’s chemical and synthetic nature.
  7. Sherm: A term commonly used when PCP is combined with a substance like marijuana and smoked.
  8. Hog: A term used to describe a person under the influence of PCP, suggesting unpredictable and potentially aggressive behavior.
  9. Lovely: Another term that may be used to describe the drug.

PCP Uses

“Angel dust” is a street name for phencyclidine (PCP), a dissociative anesthetic that was initially developed for medical use but is no longer prescribed due to its significant adverse effects. PCP is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that can cause distorted perceptions of reality and induce a dissociative state, where users may feel detached from their surroundings and even their own bodies. Here are some historical and illegal uses associated with PCP:

  1. Anesthetic Properties:

    • PCP was initially developed as a dissociative anesthetic and was used in surgical procedures. However, its use for this purpose was discontinued due to the unpredictable and severe psychological effects it could induce.
  2. Recreational Drug Use:

    • In the 1960s and 1970s, PCP gained popularity as a recreational drug, leading to various street names, including “angel dust.” Users may take PCP by swallowing tablets or capsules, snorting the powder, smoking it, or injecting it.
  3. Hallucinogenic Effects:

    • PCP is known for its hallucinogenic properties, and users may experience altered perceptions of time and space, distorted vision and hearing, and a feeling of detachment from reality. These effects can be unpredictable and may lead to “bad trips” with intense anxiety, paranoia, and violent behavior.

PCP Efficacy

Phencyclidine (PCP), also known as angel dust, is a dissociative anesthetic that was originally developed for use as a surgical anesthetic. However, due to its high potential for abuse and severe side effects, including hallucinations, agitation, and violent behavior, its medical use has been largely discontinued. PCP is now classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, indicating its high potential for abuse and severe psychological or physical dependence.

While PCP can produce profound and often unpredictable effects on the mind and body, its efficacy as a therapeutic agent is extremely limited and largely overshadowed by its risks and adverse effects. Some potential effects of PCP use include:

  1. Anesthetic Properties: PCP was initially developed as a surgical anesthetic due to its ability to induce anesthesia and analgesia. However, its use in medical settings has largely ceased due to its unpredictable effects and potential for severe adverse reactions.

  2. Hallucinogenic Effects: PCP is well-known for its hallucinogenic properties, which can include vivid visual and auditory hallucinations, distortions of time and space, and altered perceptions of reality. These effects are often unpredictable and can vary widely from person to person.

  3. Disinhibition and Agitation: PCP use can lead to disinhibition, impulsivity, and agitation, which may result in risky or violent behavior. This can pose a danger to both the individual using PCP and those around them.

  4. Psychotic Symptoms: In some cases, PCP use can trigger psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia, delusions, and disorganized thinking. These symptoms can be severe and may require medical intervention.

  5. Physiological Effects: PCP can also have a range of physiological effects, including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, shallow breathing, and body temperature dysregulation. In some cases, these effects can lead to medical emergencies, such as hypertensive crisis or hyperthermia.

Overall, while PCP may have some limited anesthetic properties, its efficacy as a therapeutic agent is far outweighed by its potential for abuse and severe adverse effects. Due to the significant risks associated with PCP use, it is not used clinically and is considered a dangerous and illicit drug. Anyone struggling with PCP use should seek help from a healthcare professional or addiction treatment specialist to address their substance use disorder and receive appropriate support and treatment.


How Is PCP Used?

PCP (Phencyclidine) can be used in various forms, and the method of use depends on the user’s preference. Here are the common ways in which PCP is used:

  1. Oral Ingestion:

    • PCP can be taken orally in tablet or capsule form. Users swallow the drug, and it is absorbed through the digestive system.
  2. Snorting:

    • Some individuals may crush PCP into a powder and snort it through the nose. This method allows the drug to be absorbed through the nasal mucosa.
  3. Smoking:

    • PCP is often smoked, either alone or mixed with tobacco or cannabis. When smoked, it typically comes in the form of a crystal or powder.
  4. Injection:

    • In some cases, individuals may dissolve PCP in a liquid and inject it into their bloodstream using a needle. This is a less common method of use.

It’s important to note that PCP is a powerful and illegal substance with a high potential for harm. The method of use can influence the intensity and duration of its effects. Smoking or injecting PCP tends to result in a faster onset of effects compared to oral ingestion or snorting.

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

The half-life of phencyclidine (PCP), a dissociative anesthetic and hallucinogenic drug, can vary among individuals and is influenced by factors such as metabolism and individual differences. The elimination half-life of PCP is approximately 7 to 47 hours.

This means that it takes approximately 7 to 47 hours for half of the administered dose of PCP to be eliminated from the body. It’s important to note that the range is relatively wide, reflecting the variability in how individuals metabolize and excrete the drug.

The effects of PCP, including its hallucinogenic and dissociative properties, can last for a shorter duration than the elimination half-life suggests. The acute effects of PCP typically peak within 30 minutes to 2 hours after use and may last for several hours. However, the drug’s metabolites can be detected in the body for a more extended period.

PCP Onset and Duration

The onset and duration of effects of phencyclidine (PCP) can vary depending on the route of administration and individual factors. PCP is known for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Here are general estimates:

  1. Onset of Action:

    • Smoking: When smoked, the effects of PCP can onset rapidly, typically within a few minutes.
    • Oral Ingestion: When taken orally, the onset may be slower, usually within 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  2. Duration of Action:

    • The duration of PCP’s effects can last several hours, generally ranging from 4 to 6 hours. However, it’s important to note that individual responses can vary, and the drug’s effects may be unpredictable.

How Long is PCP Detectable?

The detection window for phencyclidine (PCP) in various drug tests can vary based on factors such as the type of test, the frequency and amount of use, and individual factors like metabolism. Here are general estimates for how long PCP can be detected in different biological samples:

  1. Urine: PCP is typically detectable in urine for up to 3 to 7 days after use. In chronic users or heavy use, it may be detectable for a longer period.

  2. Blood: PCP is usually detectable in blood for a shorter duration compared to urine. It can be detected for up to 24 hours after use.

  3. Saliva: PCP can be detected in saliva for a similar duration as in blood, generally up to 24 hours.

  4. Hair: Hair follicle tests have a longer detection window, and PCP metabolites may be detectable for up to 90 days or even longer after use. However, hair tests are less commonly used for PCP compared to other drugs.

It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and individual variations can occur. Factors such as hydration, age, liver function, and the presence of other medications or substances can influence the elimination of PCP from the body.

How Does PCP Work in the Brain and Body?

Is PCP Illegal?

Yes, PCP (Phencyclidine) is illegal in many countries, including the United States. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. This classification indicates that PCP has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States, and lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Being in possession, manufacturing, distributing, or using PCP without a valid prescription is considered illegal and can lead to legal consequences. The sale and distribution of PCP are criminal offenses, and individuals caught with the drug may face charges related to drug possession or trafficking.

Side Effects and Risks of PCP

PCP (Phencyclidine) use can have various short-term and long-term side effects, and these effects can be unpredictable due to the drug’s hallucinogenic and dissociative properties. It’s important to note that the severity and manifestation of side effects can vary among individuals. Here are some short-term and long-term side effects associated with PCP use:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Hallucinations: PCP is known for inducing intense and often disturbing hallucinations, which can affect visual, auditory, and sensory perceptions.

  2. Dissociation: Users may experience a sense of detachment from their surroundings, their body, and even reality.

  3. Distorted Thinking: PCP can lead to confusion, impaired judgment, and distorted thought processes.

  4. Agitation and Aggression: Some individuals may exhibit aggressive or violent behavior, becoming unpredictable and dangerous.

  5. Nystagmus: PCP use may cause rapid and involuntary eye movements.

  6. Nausea and Vomiting: Users may experience gastrointestinal distress, including nausea and vomiting.

  7. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: PCP can lead to elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Psychological Effects: Prolonged use of PCP can contribute to persistent psychological effects, including anxiety, depression, and memory problems.

  2. Speech and Motor Impairment: Long-term use may result in speech difficulties and impaired motor coordination.

  3. Weight Loss: Chronic use of PCP may lead to appetite suppression and weight loss.

  4. Addiction: Some individuals may develop a psychological dependence on PCP, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

  5. Social and Occupational Impairment: PCP use can interfere with social relationships and occupational functioning.

  6. Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Long-term use may contribute to cognitive deficits and memory impairment.

  7. Risk of Accidents: PCP use increases the risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgment and coordination.

IS PCP Addictive?

Yes, PCP (Phencyclidine) can be addictive, although the development of addiction may vary among individuals. PCP is known to have a potential for psychological dependence, where users may feel a compulsive need to continue using the drug despite experiencing negative consequences.

The addictive nature of PCP is attributed to its impact on the brain’s reward system. The drug affects neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which play a crucial role in pleasure and reward. Regular use of PCP can lead to changes in the brain’s chemistry, reinforcing drug-seeking behavior.

Factors influencing the risk of addiction to PCP include:

  1. Frequency and Duration of Use: Regular or frequent use of PCP increases the likelihood of developing dependence.

  2. Dosage: Higher doses of PCP may contribute to a more intense and reinforcing experience, potentially increasing the risk of addiction.

  3. Individual Vulnerability: Factors such as genetics, mental health, and personal susceptibility can influence an individual’s vulnerability to addiction.

It’s important to note that PCP addiction can have serious consequences for an individual’s physical and mental health, as well as their overall well-being. Seeking professional help from healthcare providers or addiction specialists is crucial for individuals struggling with PCP addiction.

Can You Overdose on PCP?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on phencyclidine (PCP). PCP overdose can occur when an individual ingests or inhales a larger amount of the drug than their body can safely metabolize. PCP is a potent dissociative anesthetic and hallucinogen, and taking too much of the drug can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Symptoms of a PCP overdose may include:

  1. Severe Hallucinations: PCP overdose can cause intense and disturbing hallucinations, including visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations.

  2. Agitation and Violent Behavior: Individuals experiencing a PCP overdose may become extremely agitated, aggressive, or violent. This can pose a danger to themselves and others.

  3. Confusion and Disorientation: PCP overdose can lead to profound confusion, disorientation, and impaired judgment.

  4. Delirium: Severe PCP overdose can result in delirium, a state of acute mental confusion characterized by disorganized thinking, hallucinations, and disturbances in perception.

  5. Respiratory Depression: PCP overdose can depress the central nervous system, leading to slowed or shallow breathing. In severe cases, respiratory depression can lead to respiratory arrest and death.

  6. Hyperthermia: PCP overdose can cause elevated body temperature (hyperthermia), which can lead to heatstroke, organ damage, and death if not treated promptly.

  7. Seizures: In some cases, PCP overdose can trigger seizures, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a PCP overdose or observe someone experiencing symptoms of overdose. Prompt medical intervention is essential to stabilize the individual’s condition, manage symptoms, and prevent complications.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PCP use, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional or addiction treatment specialist. Substance use disorders, including PCP addiction, are treatable conditions, and there are resources and treatments available to help individuals overcome addiction and regain control of their lives.

Treatment Options for Angel Dust PCP Addiction

Types of Treatment Available (Most Covered by Insurance):

  1. Inpatient Rehabilitation:

    • Inpatient rehabilitation, also known as residential treatment, involves individuals residing within a treatment facility for a specified duration. This structured environment provides intensive care and support.
  2. Outpatient Programs:

    • Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while continuing their daily lives. They attend therapy sessions, counseling, and other interventions on a scheduled basis.
  3. Detoxification (Detox):

    • Detox is the initial phase of treatment, focusing on safely and systematically removing substances from the body. It is often conducted under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Therapy and Counseling:

    • Various therapeutic modalities, including individual counseling, group therapy, and family therapy, are crucial components of addiction and mental health treatment. These sessions help individuals explore and address underlying issues.
  5. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

    • MAT involves the use of medications, in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies, to address substance use disorders. It is particularly effective for opioid and alcohol addictions.
  6. Dual Diagnosis Treatment:

    • Dual Diagnosis Treatment addresses co-occurring mental health disorders alongside substance use disorders. It involves integrated interventions to holistically address both aspects of an individual’s well-being.
  7. Holistic Therapies:

    • Holistic approaches incorporate alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness. These practices aim to promote overall well-being and support recovery.
  8. Support Groups:

    • Support groups, like those following the 12-step model (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), provide a community for individuals to share experiences, seek guidance, and foster mutual support.
  9. Sober Living Homes:

    • Sober living homes offer a transitional and supportive environment for individuals in recovery. They provide a structured living arrangement to reinforce sobriety.
  10. Mental Health Treatment:

    • Mental health treatment specifically addresses psychiatric conditions. It may involve therapy, medication management, and other interventions to enhance emotional well-being.
  11. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

    • CBT is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is effective for both addiction and mental health concerns.
  12. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

    • DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with emotional dysregulation.
  13. Motivational Interviewing (MI):

    • MI is a client-centered counseling style aimed at eliciting behavior change by helping individuals explore and resolve ambivalence. It is effective in the early stages of recovery.
  14. Residential Treatment Centers:

    • Residential facilities provide immersive and structured treatment experiences for individuals requiring a more extended and intensive intervention.
  15. Community-Based Programs:

    • Programs within the community offer accessible and community-centered support for individuals with mental health concerns.
  16. Inpatient Mental Health Treatment:

    • Inpatient mental health treatment involves individuals residing within a treatment facility designed to provide a controlled and supportive environment for managing mental health conditions.

Understanding the diverse range of treatment options allows individuals to access the most suitable and effective interventions tailored to their unique needs. Seeking professional guidance is crucial to developing a personalized treatment plan.

Does Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Typically, yes. The coverage of addiction treatment by insurance can vary depending on the type of insurance plan, specific policy details, and the individual’s needs and circumstances. Here are key points to consider regarding insurance coverage for addiction treatment:

  1. Type of Insurance Plan:

    • Different types of insurance plans, such as private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, may have varying levels of coverage for addiction treatment.
  2. In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Providers:

    • Insurance plans often have a network of preferred providers. In-network addiction treatment facilities are generally covered at a higher rate than out-of-network providers. Checking if the facility is in-network can impact coverage.
  3. Verification of Benefits:

    • It is crucial to contact the insurance provider and verify the specific terms of coverage for addiction treatment. This includes checking details such as copayments, deductibles, and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  4. Medical Necessity and Preauthorization:

    • Insurance coverage for addiction treatment may be contingent on a determination of medical necessity. Preauthorization or approval from the insurance company may be required before entering a treatment program.
  5. Level of Care:

    • Different levels of addiction treatment, such as inpatient, outpatient, or intensive outpatient programs, may have different coverage considerations. Some insurance plans may cover certain levels of care more comprehensively.
  6. Length of Treatment:

    • Insurance coverage may be influenced by the length of the treatment program. Some plans may have limitations on the number of days covered, while others may provide more extensive coverage for longer durations.
  7. Parity Laws:

    • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) in the United States requires insurance plans to offer coverage for addiction services at levels comparable to medical and surgical coverage.
  8. Crisis or Emergency Situations:

    • In cases of immediate need or crisis, insurance plans may cover addiction treatment as part of emergency services. However, it is essential to follow up with the insurance provider for ongoing coverage considerations.
  9. Appeals Process:

    • If an insurance claim for addiction treatment is denied, individuals have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process allows for a review of the denial, and successful appeals can result in coverage being granted.
  10. Out-of-Pocket Expenses:

    • Even with insurance coverage, individuals may still have out-of-pocket expenses, such as copayments or coinsurance. Understanding these costs is essential for financial planning.

Common Insurance Plans Used for Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Common types of insurance plans used for addiction and mental health treatment include:

  1. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO):

    • PPO plans offer flexibility in choosing healthcare providers, allowing individuals to visit both in-network and out-of-network providers without a referral. PPO plans typically cover a portion of the cost for addiction and mental health rehab services, but out-of-pocket expenses may be higher when using out-of-network providers.
  2. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO):

    • HMO plans require individuals to choose a primary care physician (PCP) who coordinates their care and provides referrals to specialists, including addiction and mental health treatment providers. HMO plans often have lower out-of-pocket costs but may limit coverage to in-network providers, except in emergencies.
  3. Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO):

    • EPO plans combine aspects of both PPO and HMO plans, offering a network of preferred providers for individuals to choose from. While EPO plans do not require a PCP or referrals for specialists, coverage is typically limited to in-network providers, except in emergencies.
  4. Point of Service (POS):

    • POS plans offer individuals the option to receive care from both in-network and out-of-network providers. However, using out-of-network providers may result in higher out-of-pocket costs, and individuals may need a referral from their PCP to see specialists, including addiction and mental health treatment providers.

These insurance plans may vary in terms of coverage, network providers, cost-sharing requirements (e.g., copayments, coinsurance, deductibles), and authorization requirements for addiction and mental health rehab services. It’s essential for individuals to review their insurance plan documents, understand their coverage details, and verify network providers before seeking treatment. Additionally, individuals may need to obtain preauthorization or prior approval for certain rehab services to ensure coverage and minimize out-of-pocket expenses.


In conclusion, the use of phencyclidine (PCP), commonly known as angel dust, presents a myriad of effects and risks that underscore the importance of understanding its potential dangers. PCP is a potent dissociative anesthetic and hallucinogen that can induce profound alterations in perception, cognition, and behavior. However, these effects come with significant risks to both physical and mental health.

From inducing intense hallucinations and disorientation to triggering aggressive behavior and physical harm, PCP use can have severe and often unpredictable consequences. The risks of PCP extend beyond the immediate effects of intoxication, potentially leading to long-term psychiatric symptoms, addiction, and dependence.

Furthermore, the dangers of PCP use are not limited to the individual using the drug but also pose risks to those around them. The unpredictable nature of PCP intoxication can result in accidents, injuries, and violence, impacting not only the user but also their families, communities, and society at large.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390


Angel Dust, or PCP, differs from other hallucinogens like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms due to its dissociative effects.

Signs of Angel Dust addiction may include mood swings, social isolation, and a strong craving for the drug.

Yes, Angel Dust addiction can be treated successfully with the right combination of therapies and support.

Yes, detoxification is often necessary to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and initiate the recovery process.

The duration of Angel Dust in the system varies but can typically be detected in urine for up to a week after use.

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