Drug and Alcohol

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

How long does PCP stay in your system? Our blog examines this and more about PCP, one of the most dangerous and unpredictable drugs there is.

PCP: How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System? Exploring Detection Times and Factors

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 21, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Easily one of the most infamous drugs, PCP – more popularly known as angel dust – is an extremely potent psychedelic anesthetic. Banned in the 1960s because of the unpredictable side effects it produces, PCP has been used recreationally for decades, often with disastrous results for the user.

You might be wondering how long PCP stays in your system. Read on to learn more about PCP and its dangers.

What is PCP?

PCP, or phencyclidine, is a strong hallucinogenic drug initially developed as an anesthetic in the 1950s. PCP, sometimes known as "angel dust" or "rocket fuel," is a synthetic chemical that affects the user's perception, thoughts, and feelings. Infamous for its unpredictable effects – and capacity for making its users act in bizarre, often violent, ways – PCP also can stay in your system for a long time.

PCP commonly appears as a white crystalline powder. It can also come in pill form, Finally, PCP also comes in a liquid form that some people dip cigarettes and cannabis joints into. In this form, it is mostly consumed by smoking.

The hallucinatory attributes of the drug cause strong sensory distortions and dissociative effects, which separate the user's consciousness from their body and surroundings.

What are the Effects of PCP?

The effects of PCP vary greatly depending on the amount and route of administration. At low dosages, euphoria, relaxation, and a sensation of detachment from reality might occur. Nevertheless, higher amounts might cause more severe symptoms such as delusions, paranoia, violent behavior, and even psychosis.

Depending on the dosage & particular features, the effects of the medicine might last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

While recreational PCP usage has fallen recently, its use is very dangerous. Regular usage can develop into an addiction, and rapid withdrawal symptoms might occur. Memory loss, cognitive impairment, emotional problems, and chronic psychosis can all be the lasting effects of PCP addiction.

Plus, PCP’s effects can put its users in extreme danger, either from law enforcement, other people, or themselves.

The categorization of PCP as a Schedule II restricted drug reflects its significant abuse potential and limited medicinal use. PCP manufacturing, sale, and possession are all prohibited in most countries because of their dangerous consequences.

Street Names for PCP

In street slang, PCP is known by various names:

  • Angel Dust

  • Sherm

  • Wet

  • Rocket Fuel

  • Supergrass

  • Hog

  • Zoom

  • Peace Pill

  • Embalming Fluid

  • Wack

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Signs and Symptoms of PCP Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of PCP addiction can help someone get treated earlier. Here are a few signs and symptoms of PCP addiction:

Behavioral Changes

Individuals who are addicted to PCP can exhibit notable behavioral changes. They may become more secretive, introverted, or disconnected from family and friends. In addition, they may display irregular or unpredictable behavior, mood swings, and irritability. PCP is capable of making its users very aggressive.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

The inability to stop using a substance despite its adverse effects is a characteristic indicator of addiction. People addicted to PCP may continue to use it despite harmful consequences to their physical health, relationships, work or school performance, or legal issues.

Tolerance and Withdrawal

Individuals who use PCP regularly may develop tolerance, requiring greater doses to obtain the desired effects. They may also suffer symptoms of withdrawal if they try to stop or reduce their PCP use.  Depression, cravings, sleeplessness, anxiety, and irritability are some symptoms.

Neglecting Responsibilities

PCP addiction frequently results in the disregard of essential responsibilities. Individuals may ignore work or school tasks, personal hygiene, and financial obligations to obtain and use PCP.

Physical and Psychological Symptoms

Addiction to PCP can result in a variety of physical and psychological problems. Some physical symptoms include dilated pupils, slurred speech, decreased coordination, and shaky steps. Confusion, paranoia, hallucinations, abnormal thinking, and extreme mood swings are examples of psychological symptoms.

Social and Interpersonal Problems

Addiction to PCP can affect relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. Conflicts may arise, as well as a lack of interest in previously loved hobbies and challenges sustaining a positive relationship.

Exploring the Risks and Effects of PCP Drug on the Body

Investigating the risks and effects of PCP (phencyclidine) on the body is vital for understanding potential issues linked with its usage. PCP is a potent hallucinogenic drug with serious side effects. Here are some critical risks and consequences to consider.

Physical Health Risks

PCP harms the body. High PCP doses can cause high blood pressure, fast heart rate & raised body temperature. These side effects might lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attack or stroke. PCP can also cause respiratory depression and impair motor function, which might result in an accident or injury.

Psychological Effects

PCP has a reputation for causing severe hallucinations and dissociation experiences. Users may feel disconnected from their bodies, have skewed views of time and space, and struggle to discern reality from dreams. These side effects might lead to extreme disorientation, anxiety, and paranoia. 

PCP usage can cause severe psychosis in certain people, characterized by delusions, excessive agitation, and aggressive conduct.

Cognitive Function Impairment

PCP usage has been shown to decrease cognitive function and memory. It has the potential to impair attention, focus, and problem-solving ability. Prolonged or excessive PCP usage may result in long-term cognitive impairments, impairing an individual's capacity to function in daily life.

Addiction and Dependence

Psychological dependency and addiction are possible with PCP. Cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behavior can result from long-term usage. Withdrawal symptoms such as sorrow, anxiety, and severe cravings may occur if PCP usage is discontinued after dependency has formed.

Long-Term Mental Health Consequences

Chronic PCP usage has been linked to long-term mental health problems. Individuals may have chronic psychosis, which includes persistent hallucinations, delusions, and mental disorders. All these effects have the potential to have a significant impact on a person's overall health.

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System? PCP and Drug Tests

Several factors can determine how long PCP lingers in your system, including the dosage taken, frequency of usage, individual metabolism, and the kind of PCP drug test used. So, while the information below gives basic suggestions, remember that these periods might vary from person to person.

PCP Detection Times in Urine

Within 4-6 hours of consumption, PCP can be found in urine. It may generally be detected for 7-14 days. A longer detection window may result from chronic or excessive consumption.

Individual metabolism and hydration levels, for example, might alter detection length. PCP may be detected for a prolonged time in those with a slower metabolism or who are dehydrated.

PCP Detection Times in Blood

PCP is rapidly metabolized in the body, reaching peak levels between 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption. It is usually detectable in blood within a few hours of usage. PCP can be detected in blood tests for up to 48 hours. The time it takes for a drug to be detected in the blood might vary depending on factors such as dose, frequency of use, and individual metabolism.

The rate at which PCP is metabolized and removed from the circulation can also be affected by hydration and liver function.

PCP Detection Times in Saliva

Within a few hours of consumption, PCP can be found in saliva. It can be detected in saliva for up to 1-3 days. In comparison to urine testing, saliva tests for PCP are less prevalent. Factors such as dosage, frequency of usage, and individual saliva output can all impact the detection window in saliva.

The concentration of PCP in saliva can also be affected by hydration and oral hygiene routines.

PCP Detection Times in Hair

PCP can be found in hair for an extended time. It gets absorbed into the hair shaft as it develops, resulting in a broader detection window. PCP can be detected in hair follicle testing for up to 90 days or longer.

Hair detection time frames can be influenced by factors such as hair growth rate, hair sample length, and drug usage patterns. Hair treatments, bleaching, or coloring may not substantially impact PCP detection in hair.

Factors Affecting PCP Detection Times in the System

PCP detection times in the body can be altered by several conditions. Understanding these variables can help explain why detection times differ between individuals. Here are several essential aspects that might influence PCP detection time frames.

Dosage and Frequency of PCP Use

The detection window can be influenced by the amount of PCP consumed and how frequently it is used. Higher doses and more regular usage may cause PCP to take longer to leave the body.

Metabolism

Individual metabolism is vital in drug elimination. People with higher metabolisms eliminate PCP from their systems faster, resulting in shorter detection periods. Conversely, individuals with slower metabolisms may have a longer detection window.

Body Mass 

Body composition, which includes characteristics like weight and fat content, can impact medication distribution and elimination. PCP tends to accumulate in fatty tissues, potentially extending its stay in the bodies of people who are overweight.

Hydration Level

Adequate water can help the body eliminate PCP and other drugs. Therefore, drinking lots of water and staying hydrated may assist in narrowing the detection window.

Individual Distinctions

Each individual's physiology and genetic composition can influence how their body processes and removes PCP. Therefore, individual differences can cause detection times to differ.

Method of Testing

The type of drug test employed might also affect detection timeframes. The detection windows for various testing procedures, such as urine, blood, saliva, or hair follicle tests, differ. Hair follicle testing, for example, can identify PCP for longer than urine or blood tests.

Sensitivity of the Test Used

The sensitivity of the drug test employed can impact detection timeframes. For example, some tests have lower detection thresholds and may detect lower concentrations of PCP in the system, resulting in longer detection windows.

Is PCP Addictive?

Factors contributing to the addictive nature of PCP include:

Effects on the Nervous System

PCP affects the amounts of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These modifications provide enjoyable and euphoric effects, which reinforce drug usage.

Psychological Symptoms

PCP causes severe hallucinations, dissociation, and feelings of disconnection from reality. These mind-altering effects have the potential to be addictive for some, leading to continued usage.

Tolerance and Dependence

Prolonged PCP usage might lead to tolerance, needing greater doses for the intended effects. Physical and psychological dependence can develop, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.

Cravings and Obsessive Behavior

PCP causes intense cravings, driving people to seek and use the substance. Individuals may continue to use PCP obsessively despite the unfavorable repercussions of phencyclidine intoxication.

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

Underlying mental health conditions can make people more vulnerable to phencyclidine use disorder. PCP can be used to self-medicate or temporarily ease symptoms.

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PCP Withdrawal Symptoms and Recovery

The severity and duration of PCP withdrawal might vary based on the individual's pattern of usage and the amount of PCP consumed. Here are some of the most frequent PCP withdrawal symptoms and information regarding the recovery process.

Withdrawal Symptoms of PCP

  • Intense drug cravings

  • Depression and mood swings

  • Anxiety and irritability

  • Fatigue and lethargy

  • Disturbed sleep patterns

  • Increased appetite

  • Poor concentration and cognitive difficulties

  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, tremors, and muscle aches

How Long Does PCP Withdrawal Last?

PCP withdrawal symptoms usually appear between 24 and 48 hours after the last dose and might linger for many weeks. Withdrawal intensity and length might vary depending on factors such as the individual's level of dependence, frequency of use, and general health.

How is PCP Addiction Treated?

To correctly manage the physical and psychological symptoms of PCP addiction, it is recommended that you seek medical help. In some circumstances, a supervised medical detoxification program may be suggested to guarantee a safe and comfortable withdrawal.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help with the psychological components of addiction and recovery. Individuals might benefit from counseling sessions to build coping mechanisms, regulate urges, and address underlying issues contributing to drug use.

Support Groups

Joining a support group, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide a helpful network of people in recovery. This can also help in the maintenance of long-term sobriety. Sharing stories and learning from others who have conquered similar obstacles may be inspiring and encouraging.

Changes in Lifestyle and Aftercare

Adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and using stress management strategies can all contribute to overall health and recovery. Participation in aftercare programs like outpatient therapy or sober living arrangements can give continuous support and accountability.

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PCP Abuse is Dangerous. The Forge Recovery Center Will Help

Drug addiction can lead to physical and mental complications, including heart, liver damage, HIV, cardiovascular problems, lung complications, arthritis, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Recognizing the signs of addiction and seeking medical attention is crucial.

The Forge Recovery Center has a deep understanding of addiction and mental health. Our expertise in dual diagnosis allows us to treat addiction at its roots, helping people understand what drives their addiction. Using evidence-based, proven techniques, we’re able to help people build better lives for themselves and truly reach their potential.

PCP abuse can destroy a person’s life. If you want to learn more about our effective PCP addiction treatment program, reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today.

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