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PCP Addiction Help & Treatment

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    PCP Addiction Help & Treatment

    Phenylcyclohexyl piperidine is a dissociative anaesthetic that is more frequently referred to as PCP or angel dust. Users of PCP are drawn to its ability to reduce, or even eliminate, the experience of pain.

    PCP is also popular for its mind-altering effects.

    In terms of how PCP presents, it is extremely variable. The colours range according to the purity and form of PCP, and it can be a crystal, pill, oil, powder, or liquid. Most often, PCP is observed as a white powder.

    Users often sniff PCP as a powder, but it can also be injected as a liquid, swallowed as a pill, or smoked if applied to a cigarette.

    PCP Addiction Statistics


    PCP is more commonly seen in the US, so we will focus on the US when presenting the statistics.

    It is reported that nearly 3% of Americans have tried PCP at least once in their life, which demonstrates its popularity in the US (1).

    Its use has become more common in recent years; between 2005 and 2011, there was a 400% increase in A&E visits involving PCP in the US (2).

    Unlike some other illegal drugs, PCP is mostly consumed by those over-25s, and its use is less common among teenagers. In 2011, 45% of A&E visits for PCP involved 25- to 34-year-olds (3).

    What are the Symptoms Of PCP Addiction?


    The main symptoms of PCP addiction are included in the mnemonic RED DANES. This stands for: rage, erythema (red skin), dilated pupils, delusions, amnesia, nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movements), excitation, and skin dryness.

    However, there are other physical changes that can occur when people consume PCP.

    These include:

    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Blurred vision
    • Poor coordination
    • Seizures
    • High body temperature
    • and Speech problems.

    As for the psychological changes, they can consist of: paranoia, anxiety, euphoria, suicidal thoughts, poor body image, detachment, and feelings of superiority.

    In the moments after taking PCP, before the side effects have kicked in (though they can kick in quickly for some people), individuals tend to feel euphoric. They are likely to experience hallucinations, and they may have warped ideas of their strength and power.

    What Does a PCP Overdose Look Like?


    It is very important that you are aware of what a PCP overdose looks like so that you can help anyone who has taken too much of the substance.

    Here are some signs:

    • The individual has uncontrollable rapid eye movements
    • The individual is losing their grasp of reality
    • They are experiencing convulsions
    • They are in a trance-like state i.e. they are unresponsive
    • They are in a coma

    If you come across anyone in this condition, first get to a safe place, as people can behave dangerously when they have consumed too much PCP.

    As soon as you are in a safe place, call an ambulance and follow the instructions of the call handler.

    What Can I Do If I Am Dependent On PCP?


    If you are dependent on PCP, the first step is acknowledging this. It is easy for people to be in denial about their drug use, especially if they are surrounded by fellow users, as they may believe their behaviour is normal and harmless.

    However, it is important to remember that addiction can come about very quickly. Just because you are not currently addicted to the substance does not mean that this won’t happen in the near future. Dependency is very often the precursor to addiction.

    Though you need to be aware that using PCP could damage you physically and mentally, and therefore you need to stop as soon as possible, try not to shame yourself for your use.

    There are many reasons people become reliant on PCP, and it is not productive to hate yourself for being a victim of addiction.

    We strongly advise you to tell a trusted loved one about your dependency. This will drive home the reality of your problem, and it will also give you someone to talk to when you are struggling, reducing the chances that you will isolate yourself and suffer in silence.

    As soon as you can, distance yourself from people who are using PCP, as this will only tempt you back into consuming it.

    Try to spend time with people who do not need drugs to have a good time, whether that’s people who used to be users and are now sober, or people who have never been users.

    Finally, seek professional help. It is very difficult to avoid drugs when you have not gotten to the root of why you started using them in the first place. If you speak to your doctor, you could access therapy to help you to get sober and stay sober, as well as a detox if you are experiencing addiction.

    What Does a PCP Detox Look Like?


    PCP detoxing is notoriously challenging, as the drug is highly addictive and stays in your system for a long time. You will experience some short-term withdrawal symptoms when you first stop taking PCP, and you may even experience long-term symptoms that affect you months after your detox.

    Some short-term symptoms of PCP withdrawal include:

    • Sweating
    • Muscle twitching
    • Restlessness
    • Agitation
    • Anxiety
    • Headaches
    • Hallucinations
    • Irritability
    • Fear
    • Diarrhoea
    • High body temperature
    • and Seizures.

    Some long-term symptoms that affect certain users include:

    • Sleep problems
    • Weight loss
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Depression
    • Mood disorders
    • Memory problems
    • and Speech problems.

    If you try to detox from PCP alone, you are more likely to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and maybe even death. This is because your body needs to be weaned off PCP slowly in order to learn how to function without it in a healthy way.

    For this reason, a medical detox is absolutely necessary if you are addicted to PCP. This detox could last up to 10 days, and for the first few days, the PCP will still be in your system.

    You may be prescribed medication such as benzodiazepines to stop you from having a seizure, or to control any seizures that occur.

    You are likely to have very strong cravings for PCP during your medical detox, and sometimes medication is given to help reduce the strength of these cravings and make it easier for you to stay sober comfortably.

    There is no way to avoid the discomfort of PCP detoxing, but the sooner you do it, the easier it will be to do. It is much harder to detox from PCP when you are severely addicted to it, and you are using it on a regular basis.

    Can I Detox From PCP At Home?


    As we have mentioned, it is very dangerous to detox from PCP at home, and the results are likely to be much worse. You need to work with a medical professional to ensure you detox safely.

    They will be keeping an eye on any changes to your body, whereas if you try to detox alone, you could miss some dangerous signs.

    However, it is possible to have an official home detox. You can enlist the help of a recovery company, which will send you the medication you need for the detox, and will keep in touch with you to ensure you are coping well with it.

    A home detox is ideal if you have a mild PCP addiction, meaning you are less likely to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and it will be slightly easier for you to withdraw from the drug.

    It is also best if you have supportive family members who will help you to resist the temptation to use PCP during your detox, and who will take care of you as you suffer from the uncomfortable symptoms that often come with a detox.

    It goes without saying that there is a cost to having a home detox. The costs vary depending on which organisation you go with, but it tends to be around £1000.

    Please remember that this includes medication, contact with medical professionals, and regular check-ins, but it does not include any aftercare, including therapy.

    How Can I Stay Sober From PCP?


    Getting sober is one challenge, but staying sober is another. If you settle for a home detox with PCP, we want to remind you that this will help you to get sober, but due to the lack of aftercare, it is not the best way for you to stay sober.

    We believe that attending residential rehab is the best way to stay sober, as it is designed to teach you how to cope with temptation, promoting long-term recovery.

    When you go to rehab, you have therapy sessions every day, which ensures you understand your triggers better by the time you leave, and you can work to manage them.

    What’s more, you join a community of people in recovery when you join rehab, and this introduces you to the usefulness of group therapy and group meetings for addiction.

    This means you will feel more comfortable attending self-help meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous when you complete treatment at rehab.

    These meetings are proven to help individuals to stay sober as they are held accountable, and they get ongoing support for their problems.

    Finally, rehab centres in the UK will provide you with aftercare in most cases. This lasts up to a year, and it consists of services that aid your recovery, such as weekly therapy, helplines, and check-ins.

    Aftercare is one of the reasons that people are more likely to stay sober after rehab; they are not left to their own devices immediately, but they have access to professional help for an entire 12 months.

    Aside from rehab, there are things you can do to try to avoid relapsing. Some ex-PCP users decide to move to another part of the country and start a completely new life, in an attempt to separate themselves from their triggers and distance themselves from past trauma.

    This is not viable or desirable for everyone, but you may want to make small changes such as attending different activities, making new friends, and changing jobs, to create the same effect.

    You are much more likely to stay sober if you have a strong support network, and you are not living with constant reminders of your addiction.

    You could even join a sober living house as a way to stay accountable for your sobriety. This is a great option for people who are currently living alone and are struggling to resist using PCP.

    Another tip is to prioritise your mental health above everything else. We know that addiction is a disease, so it is not simply a case of avoiding PCP to stay sober – you also need to make sure you are mentally stable enough to gravitate towards healthier coping mechanisms.

    Most people find that they keep their mental health in check by going to therapy on a regular basis.

    You can try out different forms of therapy and different therapists to find what works for you, as there is something out there for everyone.

    You could also use popular methods of self-regulation, such as mindfulness and journalling, to ensure you are staying in touch with your feelings.

    Do I Have to Go to Rehab For a PCP Addiction?


    No, you do not have to go to rehab for PCP addiction. As we have explained, you could have a home detox or attend self-help meetings.

    However, if you are dealing with a severe PCP addiction, we can safely say that rehab is the most successful option for people in your position.

    An alternative for people who do not want to live away from home is to attend outpatient rehab. You would still be benefitting from the resources of the rehab facility, but you would get to go home at the end of each day rather than staying over. As you can imagine, this is a more affordable option.

    Yet, inpatient treatment is more successful because your environment is pro-recovery, and there is no opportunity for outside factors to influence that.

    Everyone that you are coming into contact with is there to either help you stay sober or to stay sober alongside you. This is incredibly motivating, particularly when you consider the group therapy sessions and motivational sessions you will be having.

    Overall, it is your decision whether to get help and where to get help. If you have your reasons for refusing inpatient treatment, we still encourage you to get in touch with us and we will help you to access outpatient treatment or a home detox.

    We will ask you questions to determine which type of treatment would be best for you.

    For example, we will need to know how long you have been addicted to PCP, how severe your addiction is, whether you have attempted to recover in the past, whether you live alone, and whether you have ever had therapy for addiction.

    Please rest assured that we do not ask these questions to make you feel ashamed. We need this information as it helps us to understand what you need out of treatment, and it allows us to get to work finding a referral for you as soon as possible.

    Contact Rehab Recovery Today

    To get access to treatment in a matter of weeks, call us on 0800 088 66 86. If you live abroad, you can call +44 330 333 6197.

    Why not get to know our team before your first call by heading to our introductory page?

    Each and every member of Rehab Recovery is dedicated to helping clients find a successful treatment method that is personalised to their needs.

    They have all experienced addiction themselves, so they are acutely aware of the challenges it creates, but they are also familiar with the joys of recovery.

    To find a rehab facility near you, head to our locations page. Please keep in mind that you do not have to recover in a facility that is local to your home. If you would prefer to start treatment far from home, for a fresh start, let us know and we will conduct our search in a different area.


    [1] PCP Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Effects,least%20once%20in%20their%20lifetime.

    [2] PCP Addiction and Recovery Facts

    [3] Ibid.

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