PCP is the abbreviated term for the substance phenylcyclohexyl piperidine–or phencyclidine. PCP is commonly referred to as “angel dust” on the street and is a dissociative and hallucinogenic drug of abuse. Chronic PCP abuse can lead to addiction, which is a pattern of maladaptive drug-seeking behaviors and inability to control use. Abruptly stopping or slowing use after a long period of heavy PCP abuse may lead to a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms might make it difficult for you to quit PCP, especially if you try to quit on your own without the assistance of a detox program or substance abuse treatment program. Entering a PCP detox program is an important first step on the road to recovery.
This article will discuss the following aspects of PCP withdrawal and treatment:
- PCP withdrawal symptoms.
- The duration of withdrawal.
- PCP withdrawal treatment.
- Medications used in detox.
- Aftercare planning.
- Find a detox program.
PCP Withdrawal Symptoms
Not much scientific research exists regarding a formal PCP withdrawal syndrome, but there have been self-reports of withdrawal symptoms in chronic PCP users who have abruptly quit using the drug 2. Generally speaking, drug abuse withdrawal symptoms occur once physiological dependence develops. When you use a drug like PCP on a regular basis, your body adapts to the presence of the substance, and may seem to function abnormally when the drug is not around anymore. Once you’re dependent on PCP, you may experience withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings that can hinder your attempt to quit.
Everyone is different—people who try to quit using PCP may experience varying withdrawal symptoms that occur for different lengths of time. However, some people may not experience any PCP withdrawal symptoms at all. The manifestation of withdrawal symptoms usually depend on factors such as:
- The length of your addiction.
- The average dose of PCP regularly taken.
- Whether you used other drugs.
- Your unique biological makeup.
The majority of the existing research has focused on the psychological symptoms associated with PCP withdrawal, some of which may persist for a year or so after cessation of use, although some physical symptoms have been reported. Withdrawal symptoms may contribute to various health complications, interfere with recovery, and exacerbate any existing mental health issues you might suffer from.
Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term PCP abuse include 1,2,3:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Muscle twitches.
- Speech problems.
- Elevated body temperature.
- Increased appetite.
- Increased desire to sleep.
- PCP cravings.
You don’t have to deal with these symptoms on your own—call our helpline today at 1-888-241-8971 to speak to a recovery support specialist and find a PCP detox program that fits your needs.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
The effects of PCP usually begin within 90 minutes of use and can last for as long as 12 hours 1. However, the exact time frame for the development of PCP withdrawal symptoms or withdrawal syndrome has not been extensively studied. According to a research report series by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term users of PCP could develop withdrawal symptoms that persist for as long as a year 4.
Treatment for PCP Withdrawal
Although detoxification is not strictly required in cases of PCP addiction recovery, entering a short-term drug detox program can provide necessary support, address any physical symptoms or health concerns, and treat underlying or co-occurring mental health disorders. For example, people who use PCP can experience depression or anxiety, which can lead to possible suicide attempts 3. The close monitoring and caring support of trained professionals in a PCP detox program can help manage any troublesome withdrawal symptoms while your body clears the substance and returns to homeostasis.
Detox alone does not constitute formal substance abuse treatment since it does little to address the behavioral, social, and psychological complications associated with PCP addiction. That being said, drug detox is often considered the first stage of a comprehensive treatment plan and still a vital component of recovery 5. Many patients transition into a PCP addiction treatment program once detox has been completed.
A professional substance abuse treatment program offers many valuable components that can help foster and facilitate a successful recovery from PCP addiction.
Some of the available treatment options for PCP abuse include:
- Inpatient: You live at a residential facility for anywhere from several weeks to a few months. You receive 24/7 care and participate in structured treatment that provides a complete approach to treating your addiction. Every inpatient treatment program has a different philosophy, but generally speaking, these programs offer a combination of individual therapy, group counseling, relapse prevention classes, and aftercare planning.
- Outpatient: If you have commitments that make living at a treatment facility difficult, outpatient is a beneficial recovery option. You can attend a treatment center when it works best for you and still fulfill your obligations at home, school, or work. There are different types of outpatient treatment programs, two more intensive options being Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). These require a larger time commitment than many standard outpatient programs and may meet 5 times per week for several hours at a time.
- Support groups: People in recovery can benefit from the support and fellowship of others who have been in their shoes. Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are often a useful supplement to treatment.
- Luxury: While participating in traditional forms of treatment, you live at a top-notch facility that offers resort-like amenities, such as massage therapy, gourmet meals, and spa treatments.
- Executive: People in demanding careers or high-profile positions, such as CEOs, are not often able to take time away from their busy lives. Executive treatment offers the possibility for such professionals to work and live in private rooms, eat gourmet meals, and have access to more comfortable and luxurious surroundings.
- Holistic: If you prefer a mind-body-spirit approach to treatment, holistic treatment might be right for you. In addition to therapy and counseling, holistic rehab centers offer a range of alternative treatments such as meditation, yoga, nutritional counseling, yoga, aromatherapy, and acupuncture.
- Men- or women-only: This form of treatment caters to your rehab needs in a gender-specific environment, which some individuals find more comfortable. It also eliminates distractions from the opposite sex.
- Veteran: In addition to treating substance abuse disorders, veteran treatment facilities also pay particular attention to the unique mental health needs of veterans, such as those who struggle with PTSD or depression.
- Teen: Teen treatment facilities provide support designed to help meet the unique developmental and social needs many teens have during this often turbulent period.
- LGBT: Members of the LGBT community are often stigmatized or rejected. As a result, mental health issues are common and substance abuse treatment must fully address these psychiatric issues as well.
If you or someone you know are struggling with a PCP addiction, call our helpline at 1-888-241-8971 to talk to an treatment support specialist and receive further information about recovery options.
Medications Used in Detox
There are currently no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of PCP withdrawal 1. However, other medications may be used on an as-needed basis during treatment to help you manage any physical or psychological complications that might occur due to PCP addiction and withdrawal.
Your recovery doesn’t end once you’ve finished treatment; recovery is, for many, a lifelong process. As a crucial component of any comprehensive recovery plan, aftercare provides support and structure for people once they have completed a treatment program. Addiction is a chronic condition; relapse rates for people with substance abuse disorders are between 40% and 60%, which is similar to those of other chronic medical conditions, including diabetes and hypertension 6. Aftercare may help reduce the risk of relapse and cement your commitment to clean and sober living.
Some common aftercare options include:
- Sober living homes: You live in a group home with others in recovery. You commit to staying sober and adhere to specific rules designed to help you readjust to life outside of a treatment facility.
- 12-step programs: You might decide to participate in a 12-step group, like Narcotics Anonymous, where you work through the 12 steps of recovery with the guidance of a sponsor.
- Non-12-step programs: This includes support groups, such as SMART Recovery, or other secular support groups that are not based on the 12-step approach.
- Individual counseling: Working one-on-one with a counselor can help you identify and overcome issues that initially led to PCP abuse and addiction and provide support through your recovery journey.
- Group counseling: Many people prefer to continue their recovery in group therapy, where they can learn and gain support from others who are dealing with similar issues. Sessions are led by a qualified counselor and allow you to practice sober social skills.
Find a Detox Program
There’s no need to prolong your struggle with PCP addiction or any problematic substance abuse issues. It’s never too late to seek treatment. Call our helpline at 1-888-241-8971 and speak to a treatment support advisor about the detox and treatment options available to you.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts—Hallucinogens.
2. Center for Substance Abuse Research. Phencyclidine (PCP).
3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). MedlinePlus, Substance use – phencyclidine (PCP).
4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Research Report Series: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs.
5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.