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Phencyclidine (PCP): 6 treatments for PCP abuse and addiction

Reading time: 23 mins
Phencyclidine (PCP) 6 treatments for PCP abuse and addiction

Phencyclidine (PCP), also known as “angel dust,” is a strong anesthetic and dissociative drug. Originally, this drug was used for medical purposes due to its pain-relieving properties. Because of the severe side effects and neurotoxic effects, it was replaced by Ketamine.

PCP is consumed for recreational purposes, mainly for its mind-altering effects. It is known for its hallucinogenic, sedative, and anesthetic qualities. It can cause dissociation and hallucinations, making the user feel disconnected from reality. The PCP drug can be consumed orally, smoked, inhaled, or injected. PCP addiction happens due to regular abuse and misuse of the drug.

PCP addiction can have a significant impact on many aspects of a person’s life such as work or school performance, social relationships, mental, and physical health. The drug is very addictive, can cause dependence, and lead to various lasting effects. When a person takes excessive amounts of PCP, they can experience PCP overdose. PCP overdose treatment involves immediate medical attention and supportive care.

PCP drug treatment for abuse and addiction often involves a combination of approaches. These treatments are tailored to the patient’s specific needs. Some of the most common components include medications, behavioral therapy, support groups, and detoxification. Depending on the severity of the addiction, inpatient or outpatient rehab can help, including sober living houses. Lifestyle changes can also play a role in the treatment of PCP addiction and abuse. Identifying the different triggers, and establishing a structured and healthy daily routine can provide stability, structure, and purpose for recovery.

What is phencyclidine (PCP)?

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a recreational drug and a popular hallucinogen. It acts as a dissociative anesthetic. PCP is a powdery substance that can be taken by mouth, injected into a vein, inhaled, or smoked. It induces feelings of disassociation, detachment, and euphoria. The drug can also cause withdrawal effects for people who come off the drug. This period is characterized by anxiety, irritability, and delusions.

PCP is known by various street names like angel dust, rocket fuel, zoom, belladonna, and peace pill. To smoke the drug, the liquid form of PCP is sprayed onto plant material, like marijuana, oregano, or tobacco. When PCP is mixed with marijuana it goes by different names, such as killer joints, superweed, or supergrass.

PCP is classified as a Schedule II drug, along with highly addictive substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and pose a significant risk factor for psychological and physical dependence, according to a brochure from the National Drug Intelligence Center, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice.

PCP is available in different forms such as a yellow or clear liquid, pills, or a powder that easily dissolves in water. These different forms provide users with various options for administration. Mixing PCP with other substances can be extremely dangerous. Common substances that are combined with PCP include methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy, and mescaline. These combinations can create a dangerous cocktail of substances that intensify the effects of each drug and may result in severe health risks and adverse reactions.

Mixing PCP with ecstasy can enhance the hallucinogenic and stimulant effects, leading to increased sensory distortions and heightened euphoria. Combining PCP with LSD, another hallucinogenic drug, can amplify hallucinations and alter perceptions to an even greater extent, potentially causing intense psychological experiences. The combination of PCP and methamphetamine, a potent stimulant, can result in heightened agitation, paranoia, and increased risk of cardiovascular complications. Mescaline, another hallucinogenic substance derived from certain cacti, can have synergistic effects with PCP, intensifying the overall hallucinogenic experience.

Many users who misuse the drug can develop phencyclidine use disorder. PCP use disorder is a condition characterized by the persistent and compulsive misuse of phencyclidine (PCP). People with this disorder constantly abuse the product and experience significant impairment in many areas of their life. Including their mental well-being and physical health, academic or work performance, and overall quality of life. They struggle with compulsive drug use, cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.

Abuse of PCP can cause PCP toxicity. The toxic effects of PCP can vary depending on factors such as the dose taken, the method of administration, the individual’s tolerance, and whether it was mixed with different substances. PCP can induce psychological effects, such as severe aggression, agitation, and paranoia. It can also lead to physical effects, such as shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. PCP starts to cause symptoms at a 0.05 mg/kg dose, and at a 20 mg or higher dose, it can cause coma, seizures, and death, explained Jonathan D. Journey and Thomas P. Bentley in a report issued in StatPearls Publishing. In some cases, PCP toxicity can impair cognitive function and decision-making, leading to disorientation, memory loss, and confusion. In case of severe PCP toxicity or overdose, people can experience life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure, abnormally high body temperature, arrhythmia, and respiratory depression.

Why is the use of phencyclidine (PCP) discontinued?

The use of phencyclidine (PCP) was discontinued because of its safety profile, severe side effects, and high potential for abuse. The rate of postoperative delirium with hallucinations was very high. Therefore, in the 1960s, PCP was no longer being used or manufactured for medical purposes, explains the Drug Enforcement Administration based on the reports published in the Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section.

By 1967, the substance was found to cause negative experiences after surgery, such as feelings of unease or dissatisfaction with life (dysphoria) and perceptions of things that are not actually there (hallucinations). When recovering from its anesthetic properties, patients often became delusional, agitated, and irrational. The PCP drug is now a sedative for animals.

In the 1950s, PCP was meant to be used as an intravenous anesthetic. This is a type of anesthesia that is administered directly into the bloodstream. The product has a rapid onset, which can be highly beneficial in cases of an emergency. Experts could easily adjust the dose and monitor the patient’s response. However, its clinical use was short-lived.

One of the main reasons for PCP’s discontinuation was its high incidence of adverse effects and unpredictable nature of PCP. The drug made it difficult to ensure the patient’s safety and well-being during recovery. It created significant challenges for postoperative care and patient management.

Patients who received PCP as an anesthetic frequently experienced postoperative delirium, including hallucinations and confusion. The drug was known to induce a range of psychiatric symptoms, including agitation, paranoia, and aggressive behavior, stated L McCardle for the Addictive Behaviors journal. These side effects can disrupt sleep, cause physical exertion, excessive movements, and noncompliance, all of which can delay healing.

In addition to its adverse effects, PCP also exhibited a high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug produced powerful psychoactive effects, leading to euphoria, dissociation, and altered perceptions of reality. These mind-altering properties made PCP very popular for recreational use, especially during the 1960s and 1970s.

PCP’s addictive nature posed significant public health concerns. Prolonged use of PCP could lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. The development of PCP addiction further amplified the risk of associated health and social problems, including impaired judgment, occupational and educational difficulties, and strained interpersonal relationships.

As a result, regulatory actions were taken to restrict PCP’s availability, and it is now classified as a controlled substance. By limiting the use of this drug, patients can avoid the significant risks that come with PCP abuse or misuse.

What are the different treatments for PCP abuse and addiction?

a therapy session

The different treatments for PCP abuse and addiction focus on minimizing withdrawal symptoms and reducing the risks of prolonged drug use. The most common PCP treatment options include:

  • Medications
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Support groups
  • Detoxification
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab
  • Sober living houses

The effectiveness of the phencyclidine treatment approach can vary. However, a research from Lara A. Ray published in the June 2020 issue of the JAMA Network Open Journal shows that a combination of medications and behavioral therapy tends to be the most effective approach. However, it is worth noting that the most effective treatment for PCP addiction may vary from patient to patient because every individual has specific needs. The treatment should be patient-centric, and it depends on the severity of the addiction and overall health status. Combined approach could be beneficial because it offers more opportunities to patients with PCP addiction.

Combined pharmacotherapy and behavioral therapy help address multiple aspects of PCP abuse and addiction. It involves both psychological and physiological factors. Medication can minimize the cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and underlying brain mechanisms associated with addiction. While behavioral therapy can address the psychological aspects of abuse and addiction. That includes changing negative thought patterns, triggers, and behaviors. The combination of both approaches allows for a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan that can target multiple areas of addiction.

In emergency care, especially during a PCP overdose treatment, the goal is to manage the physical symptoms and stabilize the patient. It is important to address the acute and potentially life-threatening effects of PCP toxicity. This often involves oxygenation and ventilation, supportive care, behavioral management, and strict monitoring.

1. Medications

Medication is the use of pharmaceutical therapy for treating PCP abuse and addiction. Pharmacological agents are an evidence-based line of treatment. They can assist in managing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse prevention, stated Antoine B. Douaihy for the Social Work in Public Health peer-reviewed journal. Some medications can also be used to address co-occurring mental health conditions or associated symptoms.

There are no FDA-approved medications that are formulated specifically for treatment of phencyclidine use disorder. The specific medications and treatment approach may vary from patient to patient. But, the overall process of using medications for treating PCP addiction starts with evaluation and assessment. A qualified healthcare expert conducts a thorough evaluation of the patient’s addiction history, physical and mental health, and any co-occurring conditions.

Based on the evaluation, the healthcare professional develops an individualized treatment plan for PCP addiction treatment. The treatment plan takes into account the patient’s unique treatment needs and goals. They then select the right medications most suitable for PCP addiction and abuse. This may involve medications for managing cravings or addressing mood disorders. The patient receives prescription medications that they either have to take orally or through injections. The doctor then monitors the drug’s effectiveness and addresses any potential side effects.

Medication can play a significant role in treating addiction. PCP withdrawal can be very difficult, with symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, and intense drug cravings. Medications help manage these symptoms, provide relief, and make the detoxification process safer and more comfortable for the patient, explain Alison M. Diaper et al. for the February 2014 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Cravings for PCP can be very powerful and could trigger a relapse. PCP addiction can affect the brain’s chemistry and lead to imbalances in neurotransmitters and other chemicals. Medications can address this neurochemical imbalance, and restore normal brain function. Some medications, such as Naltrexone, can help reduce cravings and the urge to use more PCP. A study by M.E. Carroll et al. in the March 2000 issue of Psychopharmacology confirmed naltrexone can suppress PCP-maintained behavior. This makes it easier for the patient to resist the temptation and maintain abstinence. Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, which are involved in the effects of PCP and reduce the rewarding properties of the drug.

Many people with PCP addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as psychosis, anxiety, or depression. Medications prescribed for these conditions can help reduce the symptoms, stabilize mood, and aid the recovery process.

The success rate of pharmacotherapy for addiction is influenced by factors such as the specific medication used, the individual’s response to the medication, the duration of treatment, and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders.

Certain medications may be used to manage specific symptoms or co-occurring conditions associated with PCP addiction. Combination treatment can provide more effective results. For example, benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam and diazepam, may be used to manage anxiety, insomnia, and agitation that occur during PCP withdrawal. They can alleviate some of the psychological and physical discomfort associated with detoxification.

However, if the patient is suffering from persistent hallucinations or psychotic symptoms after the PCP effects have worn off, then antipsychotic medications like risperidone or quetiapine may be used. If the patient with PCP addiction has a co-occurring depression, then antidepressants, like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can help alleviate the symptoms.

2. Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy. This type of talk therapy tries to identify and modify harmful behaviors and replace them with positive ones. That includes changing thoughts, emotions, or maladaptive patterns.

Behavioral therapy is based on the premise that behaviors are learned and can be unlearned. When people replace their unhealthier behaviors and self-destructive habits, they can develop healthier ways of behaving and promote emotional well-being.

The process of behavioral therapy for treating phencyclidine abuse involves a couple of steps. The therapist provides support, guidance, and encouragement and helps empower the patient to achieve a healthy recovery.

First, the therapist conducts a thorough assessment of the patient’s needs and challenges that stem from their addiction. Then, the mental health expert develops a treatment plan that includes various techniques that can help with the PCP addiction.

During therapy sessions, the therapist helps the patient identify and address the underlying causes and triggers of their PCP addiction. The patient then learns adequate coping skills and strategies that can help with stress, cravings, and difficult emotions without resorting to drug use. The therapist can also help the patient improve their problem-solving skills. This is important for managing dependence on the drug.

Cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs related to drug use can help reduce the dependency. The patient learns to recognize and modify these thoughts, which can contribute to their addictive behaviors.

Motivational techniques can also be used to improve treatment outcomes. The therapist can suggest providing rewards or incentives for positive behaviors, such as abstaining from PCP. Throughout the entire therapy process, the therapist monitors and adjusts the treatment plan to help improve the success rate.

Behavioral therapy can prove useful for treating PCP addiction since it can address the underlying behavioral and psychological aspects of addiction. Patients can learn effective coping skills that can help the treatment process and challenge distorted thoughts and beliefs. This helps minimize the risk of relapse and increases the patient’s motivation and commitment to overcome addiction.

According to a study published in the October 2019 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology by Molly Magill and a team of experts, behavioral therapy is a leading approach for treating alcohol and drug use disorders. To study its effectiveness, researchers analyzed 30 randomized controlled trials. Based on the results, CBT proved to be effective for alcohol and drug use disorders with 15% to 26% better outcomes compared to the outcomes of patients who received no or minimal treatment.

People are more likely to abstain from using drugs after receiving CBT because behavioral therapy addresses the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that contribute to drug use. CBT equips them with the tools necessary to resist drug cravings and make healthier choices.

For example, when a person struggles with PCP addiction and undergoes CBT treatment, they can gain valuable insight into their triggers and thought patterns. They can then learn about different strategies to help cope with or avoid these triggers. As the person progresses in CBT, they become more aware of the harmful consequences of the drug and are more likely to stay motivated to treat the addiction. Over time, this cognitive restructuring can increase the person’s commitment and reduce their desire to use PCP.

3. Support groups

group of people in black with a sunset background

A support group is a meeting of people, whether in person or online, who come together to assist and support one another. Support groups consist of individuals who share a common issue, objective, circumstance, or condition. They collaborate to exchange experience, information and offer support.

Support groups are here to create a safe space. The group can use this space to obtain beneficial, practical, and constructive information. It can also provide encouragement and motivation for getting through difficult periods in life. Hearing from others who’ve faced similar challenges can make people feel less isolated during hard times.

The process of support groups involves a couple of steps. A lay person, such as a psychologist, social worker, or nurse, initiates the group and sets guidelines and goals. They then invite people to participate. This can be done through online platforms, referrals, word of mouth, or outreach efforts. Support groups usually have a regular meeting schedule. Participants are encouraged to openly discuss and exchange their experiences. Members share their strategies, thoughts, hardships, and coping mechanisms. While the rest of the group provides support, empathy, and encouragement.

For people with PCP addiction, a support group can fill the gap between the need for emotional support and medical treatment. Usually, standard medical treatment is not enough to help a patient mentally cope with PCP addiction and withdrawal. Also, the patient’s family and friends may not understand the impact of the addiction or treatment. Support groups act as a connecting link, addressing both the medical and emotional needs of the patient. These are free-flowing, process-oriented sessions that can provide social support, shared experiences, practical knowledge, and improve individual therapy.

Being part of a support group allows people to hear the stories and experiences of others who have successfully overcome PCP addiction. These shared experiences can inspire hope, offer valuable insights, and serve as motivation to stay committed to recovery.

Support groups provide a network of peers who can hold each other accountable for their sobriety. Members can share their goals, progress, and challenges, and receive encouragement and support from others in the group. This accountability can help individuals stay focused on their recovery journey.

When led by an experienced layperson, people in support groups can learn certain practical tools and coping strategies. These strategies can help manage cravings, triggers, and other challenges that come with PCP addiction. Members often share their own non-professional and non-clinical tips for dealing with temptations and helping others to cope more effectively. This can give people a sense of belonging and build a strong support network outside of group sessions. This ongoing support can be highly beneficial in maintaining long-term recovery.

Kathlene Tracy and Samantha P. Wallace published their review in the September 2016 issue of the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation journal on how effective a peer support community program can be for treating addiction. In their review, they mentioned the study by R.A. Boisvert et al. from the April 2008 issue of the Occupational Therapy International which involved an intervention whose goal was to reduce relapse rates among recovering addicts living in supportive housing as well as improve their sense of community, self-determination, supportive behaviors, and quality of life. The program followed the SAMHSA recovery community model. It was led by an addiction professional and occupational therapist. The study found significant reductions in relapse rates and a decrease in homelessness among participants. These findings highlight the importance of peer and community support groups, Qualitative findings revealed improved perceptions of community affiliation and supportive behaviors among residents.

Major role in support groups belongs to 12-step programs. The 12-step mutual support programs are commonly used for treating substance use disorders. The 12-step program is a set of guidelines and principles that help people treat their addiction and behavioral health issues. It has been developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and has since been adopted by various other support groups, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The goal of these groups is to offer support in maintaining sobriety, a social circle to connect with, and a set of 12 guiding principles to follow during the recovery journey. The steps in the program require people who struggle with PCP addiction to acknowledge their lack of control over the drug. They should then examine their own values and behaviors, admit their mistakes, create a list of people they have hurt, and take steps to make amends with them.

An author manuscript by Dennis M. Donovan et al., published in the August 2013 issue of Social Work in Public Health Journal, studied the effectiveness of the 12-step program. Based on the results, these programs are widely available and easily accessible for people with substance use disorders, like PCP addiction. Research indicates that early involvement, such as attending meetings and actively participating in recovery activities, can improve treatment outcomes, and mental health, and reduce healthcare costs. However, despite these advantages, attendance, and engagement in 12-step programs can be inconsistent. There were also very high rates of attrition. To increase the likelihood of people with substance disorders completing the 12-step programs, it is important for professionals to help these people find suitable mutual support groups that align with their needs. They should strive to have the same goals, similar addiction problems, and experience in the local area.

4. Detoxification

Detoxification, also known as detox, is the medicinal or physiological process of removing harmful substances from the body. This is mainly done by the liver. Detox can also describe the period when the body readjusts to drug withdrawal, after prolonged use of an addictive substance.

Detoxification is based on the principle that a person with addiction is physically unwell and they need to take care of the physical features of addiction, such as hallucinations, appetite issues, sleep problems, and fatigue before they are ready to address the psychological side of their addiction.

The process of detoxification starts with an assessment and medical monitoring. The assessment helps determine the severity of addiction, overall health status, and potential co-occurring mental or physical health issues. During detox, healthcare experts carefully monitor the patient to manage their withdrawal symptoms. That includes monitoring the patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

PCP withdrawal can cause various physical and psychological symptoms such as hallucinations, hyperactive eye movements, tremors, twitching, irritability, fear and anxiety. Detoxification can restore the patient’s overall health and well-being by weaning the mind and body off the drug.

Medical drug detox centers often use a tapering method to gradually and safely reduce the PCP dosage over time. Healthcare experts taper the patient off PCP and give prescription medicine that acts like phencyclidine in the body. This allows for a more comfortable withdrawal and it’s a process that can take from a couple of weeks to a few months.

According to the Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45 “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment” published by SAMHSA, medical detoxification is a necessary step for lasting sobriety and recovery from addiction. Medical detox is a short-term, inpatient service designed to effectively stabilize and prepare the body for long-term addiction treatment. Medical detoxification is crucial because, under supervision, patients can detox safely, reduce the risk of relapse, and rest in a secure and safe environment. Detoxing from PCP or alcohol without inpatient treatment is risky and less effective. It increases the chance of severe withdrawal symptoms, relapse, and overdose.

Let’s consider two scenarios to illustrate this point. In Scenario A, a patient decides to detox from PCP at home, without expert support. He believes he can handle the process on his own and is unaware of the potential risks involved. As the PCP withdrawal symptoms intensify, the patient finds himself overwhelmed. He experiences severe agitation, restlessness, and hallucinations. Without proper medical support, he is at a higher risk of complications and is more likely to give in to cravings. His chances of a successful detox and long-term recovery are uncertain as he faces these challenges alone.

In Scenario B, a patient chooses a medical detox program to treat the addiction. She receives a personalized detox plan and gets proper medical supervision and support. A healthcare team manages her withdrawal symptoms and provides medication in a controlled and supportive environment. In case of an emergency, the medical detox facility can provide immediate intervention. The patient also has access to counseling and therapy, which further aids her recovery. She is spending time in a secure and structured environment free of triggers. This significantly improves her chances of a successful detox and long-term recovery.

5. Inpatient or outpatient rehab

An inpatient rehabilitation facility is a licensed facility that specializes in providing intensive rehabilitative services for severe addiction. Choosing an inpatient rehab program means staying in that facility until the treatment is complete. During the stay, patients receive round-the-clock medical and emotional support.

Outpatient rehab is a therapy-based treatment that doesn’t require patients to stay at a treatment facility. This program is beneficial for mild substance abuse that is still in the early phases. Patients can live on their own and attend therapy sessions based on the schedule provided. It lacks the structure and routine of inpatient rehab, but it helps the patients maintain a sense of normalcy.

Inpatient rehab provides the highest level of rehab services for people diagnosed with substance use disorder. These programs offer comprehensive care, including integrated mental health therapies and medical detoxification. Since addiction impacts the mind, body, and spirit, inpatient rehab assembles a diverse team of clinicians to develop a healing plan for every patient. This team consists of licensed professionals dedicated to providing residential treatment.

The inpatient treatment for PCP abuse begins by thoroughly understanding the patient’s specific circumstances. The treatment team assesses the patient’s general health, mental well-being, and substance use history to create a personalized plan for drug rehabilitation.

Detoxification serves as the initial step in healing from PCP abuse. It involves eliminating accumulated chemicals resulting from prolonged substance use. During this phase, patients receive continuous medical monitoring until they stabilize the withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, patients transition to a residential treatment unit. Here they interact with peers and engage in various rehab activities and services. These may include wellness and fitness activities, group therapy, individual therapy, educational workshops, etc. To effectively address PCP addiction, experts in inpatient rehab employ evidence-based treatments. They use mainly cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted therapies.

Outpatient programs are chosen by patients who have a strong desire to overcome their PCP addiction, need a flexible schedule, do not use drugs intravenously, and may be viewed as “high functioning.” Outpatient programs offer various formats, services, and levels of intensity. But their main goal is to provide a support network, education, and counseling.

There are three general types of outpatient rehab programs. These include day programs, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and continuing care. In a day program, people meet at an outpatient facility for a couple of hours each day, usually 5-7 days a week. IOPs have a treatment plan with specific milestones. IOPs typically involve multiple sessions per week for a couple of hours. As the patient achieves these milestones, the required time commitment per week decreases. Continuing care are groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They provide ongoing support to help with sobriety. Some of these groups can be age- or gender-specific.

Inpatient and outpatient programs are effective, but unfortunately studies focusing on PCP addiction only are lacking. Residential or inpatient treatments are particularly beneficial. They improve treatment outcomes of substance use disorders (and PCP is also one of SUDs) across multiple domains, according to a study that D. de Andrade et al. published in the August 2019 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Every patient is different, and the treatment’s success rate can depend on the characteristics of the individual receiving phencyclidine treatment.

For example, if a patient has been abusing PCP for years, then they can develop a greater psychological and physical dependence. This requires more intensive and longer interventions. Mixing PCP with other drugs or alcohol can complicate the treatment process and increase the odds of negative health effects. So, it might be necessary to address multiple substance use disorders at the same time. Some people with PCP addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental health problems, like psychosis or depression. Treating the addiction can involve improving mental health as well.

6. Sober living houses

Sober living houses are residential units designed to help people stay sober. People who live in these houses rent rooms for an extended period and lead a normal life. Residents make a commitment to abstain from substance use while participating in outpatient programs or after they finish inpatient rehab.

Living in sober houses helps establish new habits and routines. The goal is to apply everything that patients learned in rehab to everyday life. This is a critical step in addiction recovery.

The process works in different categories of sober-living environments. These include peer-run, monitored, supervised, and integrated living environments. They have distinct characteristics and levels of support. Peer-run sober living houses are often single-family homes. A senior resident often manages the household. While there can be house meetings and drug screenings, there is no medical staff that resides within the home. Monitored environments can be apartments or single-family homes. A house manager or a senior resident takes on the leadership role. Here, residents often have to follow house or peer-run group rules. Supervised residential units have an organizational structure and administrative oversight. But, clinical services are separate from sober-living services. Integrated environments are more institutional in nature. Clinical services are offered on-site, staff members have appropriate credentials, and regular drug screenings are standard practice.

Sober living houses help people with PCP addiction transition from rehab back to the community. These residential units promote healthy and independent living during the early stages of recovery. The purpose of sober housing for PCP addiction is to separate people from their former environments that led to substance use and offer people with a PCP drug history a safe space to heal, free from external pressures and influences.

Based on a study by Douglas L. Polcin, Ed.D., and a team of experts, published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, not having a stable environment free from alcohol and drugs can make it very difficult for people to maintain long-term abstinence. Unhealthy living environments can disrupt the recovery process, even for individuals who are highly motivated. Sober living houses (SLHs) can provide a beneficial living environment for people who want to stay away from alcohol and drugs at home. Researchers observed 300 people who entered two different types of SLHs over a period of 18 months. They found significant improvements in drug and alcohol use, psychiatric symptoms, employment, and arrest rates among the participants.

For example, when someone has been struggling with PCP addiction for several years, and the main stressor was a destructive family dynamic, then living in a sober living house can help. Being away from the negative influences and triggers of the previous environments can help the person gradually break free from the cycle of PCP addiction. Over time, they can see improvements in various aspects of life. Including physical, mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

How can lifestyle changes help treat PCP abuse and addiction?

Lifestyle changes are behavior changes that bring positive improvement to a person’s life. It means turning old habits into new ones. The new habits should promote overall well-being and support the recovery process. That also includes making different choices and actions, which apply to various aspects of life.

a girl cutting a pear on a kitchen counter

According to reports by Glyn Davies et al. published in the January 2015 issue of Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, lifestyle changes can shape the recovery process for phencyclidine use disorder. Adopting a healthy and supportive lifestyle can improve the chances of successful recovery. This may include making changes in areas such as physical activity, nutrition, sleep patterns, social interactions, stress management, and focusing on personal growth and fulfillment. Examples of lifestyle changes include eating balanced meals, quitting alcohol, doing regular physical activity, seeking out new hobbies, and practicing mindfulness meditation.

By making positive lifestyle choices and incorporating habits that support recovery, people can enhance their overall quality of life and increase their chances of long-term sobriety. In other words, recovery is not just about abstaining from PCP abuse but also about creating a fulfilling and healthy life beyond addiction.

Should a certified healthcare professional determine PCP addiction therapy?

Yes, a certified medical expert should determine PCP addiction therapy. PCP addiction is a complex problem that requires specialized treatment. Healthcare professionals, such as addiction specialists, counselors, or psychiatrists certified in addiction treatment, can assess and diagnose PCP addiction. They can also suggest a personalized treatment plan.

Certified healthcare professionals have the right knowledge and expertise to understand the unique challenges that come with PCP addiction. They can assess the severity of the addiction, the possibility of co-occurring health issues, and other circumstances that might have contributed to the addiction. It’s important to seek guidance from a certified professional to make sure that PCP addiction therapy is done with evidence-based treatment. This maximizes the chances of successful recovery.

Can PCP addiction treatment be personalized to meet the unique needs of each individual?

Yes, treatment for PCP addiction can be personalized to meet the unique needs of every individual. Treatment usually involves a combination of approaches. That includes behavioral therapies, counseling, support groups, detox, and medication-assisted treatment. By personalizing PCP addiction treatment, patients can receive tailored support that addresses their unique challenges, circumstances, and goals.

PCP drug is highly addictive. During the initial assessment, healthcare professionals evaluate the person’s addiction severity, overall health, co-occurring mental health conditions, social support system, and other factors. This information helps develop a personalized treatment plan.

The treatment plan may include individual therapy sessions, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive-behavioral interventions, motivational enhancement techniques, relapse prevention strategies, and other evidence-based approaches. Medications may be prescribed when necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms or address co-occurring mental health disorders.

Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan may be made based on the individual’s progress, challenges, and changing needs. The goal is to provide comprehensive and individualized support to help the person overcome PCP addiction and achieve long-term recovery.

What makes PCP addictive?

PCP is a powerful dissociative drug with pain-relieving properties. What makes PCP addictive is its profound effects on the central nervous system, which also includes a reward pathway. PCP floods the brain’s reward circuit with dopamine. It results in euphoria, an altered state of consciousness, and detachment from reality. The drug induces powerful hallucinations and feelings of strength and invulnerability. These intense psychological effects can create a strong craving for the drug.

People may also turn to PCP as a means to escape emotional pain, traumatic experiences, or other mental health issues. The drug’s dissociative qualities provide short-term relief, which can lead to a cycle of self-medication and PCP addiction.

With repeated PCP use, the body may develop a tolerance and need higher doses to achieve the desired result. Continued use can lead to psychological and physical PCP dependence. This is a state where a person relies on PCP to function normally and avoid withdrawal symptoms. But, when they abruptly stop taking it, PCP can trigger intense withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleep problems, cravings, and anxiety.

In its purest form, PCP is a crystalline powder. It dissolves easily in liquids like alcohol and water. But, because PCP is an illegal substance, suppliers can contaminate the product and it can vary in consistency, color, and quality. PCP itself, regardless if it is pure or contaminated, remains a highly addictive substance. The addictive properties of the drug PCP are primarily related to its impact on the brain’s reward system and the development of dependence.

What is the effect of PCP on the brain?

a pink candle of a brain shape

PCP is a mind-altering substance. It can affect the central nervous system and can cause changes in behavior and thinking patterns. The drug has the ability to interfere with neurotransmitters, disrupt glutamate receptors, change brain communication, induce hallucinations, and impair cognitive functions.

PCP causes neurochemical effects and facilitates the release of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. This leads to feelings of euphoria and happiness. It can also affect mood and sensory perceptions. Normally, after these neurotransmitters transmit signals between neurons, they are reabsorbed by the sending neuron. PCP prevents this reuptake process, leading to increased levels of these neurotransmitters in the synaptic space (the gap between neurons). This prolonged presence of neurotransmitters can alter brain function. It can lead to abnormal communication between neurons and disrupt the normal balance of neurotransmitter activity.

PCP also blocks the action of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, explains Eunsook Lee et al. in a comparative study published in the July 2006 issue of NeuroToxicology peer-reviewed journal. NMDA receptors are specialized receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate. These receptors play a crucial role in the regulation of excitatory neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity, which is important for learning and memory. By blocking NMDA receptors, PCP interferes with the normal functioning of glutamate. It disrupts the balance of excitatory neurotransmission in the brain.

The drug has the ability to distort a person’s perception of the world, create a sense of detachment, and induce intense paranoia and highly realistic hallucinations. It can also provide a false sense of power, security, and strength. These cognitive effects can lead to risky behavior, particularly among younger adults.

The effects of PCP vary depending on the dose. PCP in lower doses causes intoxication similar to alcohol. This drug can also affect brain areas such as cerebellum that regulate functions such as walking, balance, and coordination. Some people who take lower PCP doses can also experience hallucinations and dissociations, which also occur due to the influence of PCP on the brain. Hallucinations can lead to poor judgment and feeling invincible. PCP in moderate doses intensifies these effects and causes heavier sedation. Some people can lose consciousness. Heavy doses of PCP can lead to PCP overdose. It can cause seizures that could put people’s lives in danger.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of PCP addiction?

The signs and symptoms of PCP addiction can be physical, behavioral, cognitive, and psychosocial. Their impact will vary based on the severity of the addiction, the amount of drug used, and whether it has been mixed with other substances. The signs and symptoms of PCP use are listed below.

Physical symptoms:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Respiratory problems
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Vomiting

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Using PCP in obviously dangerous situations (such as driving a vehicle, operating heavy machinery, engaging in reckless activities, etc)
  • Unusually violent or aggressive behavior
  • Trying to quit or control PCP use and fail
  • Using the drug despite developing PCP side effects
  • Devoting a significant amount of time to use, buy, or recover from PCP use

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Being unable to focus
  • Dissociation
  • Amnesia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Poor judgment
  • Lack of concentration

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Losing interest in activities that were previously entertaining

Treatment for PCP can address the unique challenges of PCP addiction and provide comprehensive care. PCP addiction treatment can provide ongoing support to help patients regain stability, rebuild relationships, and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life free from addiction.

How dangerous is PCP addiction?

PCP addiction is considered relatively dangerous due to its profound effects on the brain and body. It can have severe behavioral, psychological, and physical consequences.

Physically, PCP addiction can cause irregular breathing, elevated heart rate, muscle rigidity, and even coma. Psychologically, it can induce paranoia, delusions, psychosis, and other mental health disturbances.

PCP can also put a strain on personal or work-related relationships. It can lead to legal problems, financial issues, and social isolation. The unpredictable nature of contaminated PCP can make it challenging to control and manage the addiction. These are the kind of effects that are difficult to reverse.

What are some health effects of PCP Addiction?

PCP addiction can have short-term and long-term effects. Most people use PCP to feel euphoria, pain relief, and detachment or depersonalization. But, they can also experience other temporary health effects, such as distorted image and sound, numbness in the legs and arms, and loss of coordination. These PCP health effects tend to subside as soon as the drug leaves the system.

But, users who’ve been abusing the drug for a very long time, and have been mixing it with other substances, can experience long-term health effects from the PCP drug. These are listed below.

  • Flashbacks
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Stuttering and difficulty speaking
  • Feelings of worry and sadness
  • Withdrawing from society
  • Memory and reasoning problems

The lasting effects of PCP abuse can persist for up to a year, or even longer. This can occur in serious cases of PCP abuse.

Does PCP addiction cause schizophrenia?

No, PCP addiction does not cause schizophrenia directly. PCP can cause a syndrome that resembles schizophrenia in people without any previous mental health issues. These symptoms can persist for several days to over a week, explains John B Murray in a review published in the May 2002 issue of the Journal of Psychology.

The neurotransmitter glutamate and NMDA seem to be involved in how PCP triggers both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia and cognitive impairments. Since PCP can produce symptoms similar to schizophrenia, ongoing research might help develop new medications that can boost treatment for PCP intoxication, especially in patients who don’t respond to current neuroleptic drugs.