The length of time PCP (1-phenylcyclohexylpiperidine hydrochloride) can be detected in the body depends on the type of test being administered. Urine tests, which are the most common, can identify the presence of PCP after 4-6 hours and for up to 2 weeks. Blood tests are best performed within a few hours since plasma levels peak during this time, but PCP may be detected up to 24 hours after use. Saliva tests can identify PCP for 1-2 days, and hair follicle tests can determine past PCP use for as long as 90 days.
Testing can take place in several different settings, including the following:
- Hospitals, doctor’s offices, or emergency rooms as part of diagnostic testing
- Workplaces to determine eligibility for a job
- Sports-related organizations
- For legal purposes such as possible probation or parole violations
What Is PCP?
PCP produced in the U.S. is typically by illicit labs, but the drug was initially created in 1956 by Parke Davis and Company for use as a surgical anesthetic. At first, it was believed to have the potential to be a better option than other drugs currently in use.
It was, however, later found that nearly one-third of patients became agitated and disoriented during recovery, and they would become aggressive and violent. They also experienced hallucinations that would persist for more than 12 hours, and some symptoms would be similar to those related to schizophrenia. As a result, PCP use was terminated in the medical setting in the 1960s but soon began to gain popularity as an illicit street drug.
PCP Risks and Complications
Because PCP is soluble in water, it can be absorbed into other substances such as marijuana joints or cigarettes and smoked so that users don’t always know what they’re buying. The same is true in its solid form; since it’s a white to yellowish powder, it can be sold to those who think they’re buying and ingesting mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, amphetamines, meth, or cocaine.
There is also a popular myth that PCP is produced from formaldehyde, which has led some misguided individuals to break into funeral homes to steal and consume embalming fluid. This can lead to a near-immediate coma, seizures, brain damage, and even death.
Deceptions and misconceptions aside, PCP use can cause the following:
- Panic attacks
- Brain damage
- Slurred speech
- Irregular breathing
- Muscle rigidity
- Suicidal ideations
PCP can also lead to aggressive behavior against oneself or others. Men tend to be more aggressive while high, whereas women tend to be aggressive between using episodes.
Also, some research has shown a correlation between PCP use and violent crimes against other people. This behavior is most likely a result of the confusion, disorientation, and aggression that a person can experience while under the influence of PCP. The effects of PCP can vary based on the dose and individual factors, but taking it is always risky, regardless of circumstances.
While many of the reasons doctors stopped using PCP are frightening, the hippie culture of the 1960s and ’70s embraced PCP. It was popular then—and can be tempting today—because it induces the following effects:
- Feelings of unlimited power
- Feelings of having super-human strength
- Feelings of improved social and sexual skill
- An inability to feel pain
- Feelings of detachment or from oneself and surroundings
- Extreme adrenaline highs
- A sense of time expansion
Low doses tend to be similar to the feelings of alcohol consumption. However, higher doses increase the feelings of numbness and can lead to more agitated behavior.
Getting Professional Help
The first step when treating any drug use disorder is undergoing withdrawal, preferably in a clinical environment. Symptoms can include days to weeks of anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, and sometimes psychotic episodes. Antipsychotics, such as Haldol, can be used to help manage some of the worst mental symptoms.
After the withdrawal period, we recommend a long-term residential stay in an inpatient program, such as one offered by Just Believe Recovery. Our programs provide clinically proven services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group therapy, which can help an individual learn how to live a drug-free life with a reduced likelihood of relapse.