Phencyclidine is a recreational dissociative drug, also known as PCP or angel dust. PCP exhibits both hallucinogenic and neurotoxic effects, and PCP was also formerly used as an anesthetic agent.

During the 1960s in the United States, PCP increased in popularity as a recreational drug in major cities. People magazine named PCP the country’s “number one” drug problem in 1978. PCP’s recreational use significantly declined during the 1980s.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reported in 2009 that 122,000 Americans age 12 and older had abused PCP at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.

Low doses of PCP produce numbness in the extremities and intoxication, characterized by staggering, unsteady gait, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and loss of balance. Moderate doses of PCP produce analgesia and anesthesia. Higher doses of PCP may lead to convulsions or death.

Psychological effects of PCP include severe changes in body image, loss of ego boundaries, paranoia, and depersonalization. Other side effects include: hallucinations, euphoria, suicidal impulses, and aggressive behavior. PCP can alter mood states in an unpredictable fashion, causing the abuser to either become detached or animated. PCP can lead to bizarre acts of violence due to the induced feelings of strength, power, invulnerability, or a numbing effect on the mind.