There are many risks with PCP
use. One risk singular to PCP lies in its manufacture, because not made pharmaceutically, but in labs that are uncontrolled. This creates risk for users who do not know the strength or dose they are ingesting. Higher doses of PCP can be deadly, along with long-term side effects of PCP
that may be debilitating. These may include, but are not limited to: brain damage, psychosis, psychotic episodes of recall, cognitive damage to memory and perception, growth hormone interception in adolescent users, nervous system damage and/or muscle damage.
Injuries occur for users when their muscles begin to contract or spasm and they break bones in attempts to control the severe muscle distortions. Users are heavily sedated under the influence of PCP and have been known to commit suicide, due to the anesthetic and/or psychological properties of the drug. They cannot recognize pain they are inflicting on themselves and do serious bodily damage. Some users experience bouts of super-human strength and believe themselves immune to injury or pain.
Psychosis is common with PCP use; some may experience permanent psychotic symptoms, similar to those of schizophrenia. Coupled with their lack of understanding about the sedative effects of PCP and hallucinations, users may think they can do things that put them in serious risk of physical harm, such as driving a car of jumping from high places, believing they can do so with impunity. Because they can be difficult to subdue, users have been known to require restraint by authorities in order to calm them down and keep them from harming themselves or others.
Symptoms of Regular Use
Users can develop dependence on PCP
, thereby requiring larger doses to receive the same high. As doses increase and use escalates, risks become higher for the types of injuries listed above. Neuronal damage is a certain outcome of sustained use of PCP, as are nervous tics and muscle spasms. Kidney damage is seen after no more than two or three uses for some. Hallucinations and delusions become more frequent and may become permanent for some users. Suicide risks are high due to the cumulative effects on the central nervous system of depression and sedative abuse. Self-mutilation is common and scars are often seen on the arms, legs, face and upper body of frequent users of PCP.
A feature singularly present in PCP abuse is the detached state of the user. Because they feel cut off from physical and emotional sensations occurring to them, they may behave in ways indicating they do not inhabit their physical body. This delusion is such that they remain detached emotionally and mentally. Delusions created by PCP use may become permanent. Symptoms of delusion and hallucination are similar to those of schizophrenia.
Behaviors of superhuman strength are commonly reported with PCP use. Incidents of attempting to stop cars are reported, as are occasions of attempting to fly, to jump off from high buildings or bridges and others. These reports may be exaggerated, but there is good evidence that the nature of the anesthetic properties of PCP are potent enough to cause many types of delusional thinking that includes acts of strength unseen with other drugs.
Co-Occurrence with Mental Illness and Confounding Symptoms
The symptoms of abuse of larger doses of PCP are similar to the symptoms seen with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder. Because use may not be reported honestly, it can lead to the misdiagnosis of mental illness that will abate when the user comes off the effects of the drug. Some damage due to PCP
may be permanent after long-term use or higher doses. This can lead to drug-induced psychosis, which may be mistaken for schizophrenia.
The danger of treating the psychotic symptoms of drug-induced psychosis is that it will not be as effective as when the illness is present. Therefore, the user may be medicated and suffer increased symptoms.
Brain Damage and Other Health Risks
Along with the depression created by use of PCP, it is more dangerous for younger users, because they are more highly susceptible to suicidal ideation and performance. Under the influence of PCP, users do not have normal physical responses to pain or temperature. This risk increases with frequency of use and/or higher doses. Users may believe they are not doing physical harm to themselves if they are high enough to lose pain sensation to any/all parts of their body. Many perform self-mutilation, believing that they have become impervious to pain. These effects may be permanently damaging to the user.
Memory loss and cognitive damage to the brain of the user is a common side effect of PCP
usage, even with a single episode. Hallucinations and delusions may persist for long periods after abstinence from the drug. Since there are no controls over the production of PCP, it is highly unpredictable with use and side effects.
Another physical risk is that of the users who experience muscle contractions or spasms that can become increasingly severe; enough so to actually break bones or cause permanent tearing of the muscle. This is a very lengthy healing process to cause and can lead to permanent scarring or muscle weakness.