PCP (Phencyclidine): Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:48 pm

People taking PCP might require medical care for one of four reasons: to bring them down during a bad trip, to stop them from harming themselves or others while high, to receive emergency treatment for an overdose, or to help addicts stop taking the drug.
Treating people who are having a bad trip on PCP and/or panicking to the point that they are a danger to themselves or others is challenging. They usually cannot be “talked down” as people on LSD can. Trying to talk to someone on PCP often only increases his or her agitation.
The best way to calm down people on PCP is to put them in a dark, quiet environment with as little stimulation as possible. Such people must be watched at all times because they may suddenly become violent or suicidal. When this does not work, hospital staff may give them a mild tranquilizer.
A PCP overdose can lead to death if not adequately treated, so people who overdose on PCP should immediately be taken to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. There, the medical staff will treat overdose victims with drugs that counteract the individual symptoms they are experiencing. For instance, blood-pressure-lowering drugs are given for high blood pressure, fever reducers for a high fever, and antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia-like reactions. They may also use drugs and other treatments that help hasten the release of PCP from the body. In severe cases, people who overdose might need life-support equipment to keep them alive until the drug passes out of their bodies.
Fortunately, many people find a PCP high to be unpleasant, so addiction to this drug is not a widespread problem. However, there are a few people who take the drug regularly and become addicted. An addicted person who suddenly stops taking PCP experiences a host of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, belligerence, and numbed emotions. As a result, inpatient drug rehabilitation programs are often not helpful because PCP addicts do not function well in the very confrontational environment of such programs. They are more likely to be successful in 12-step programs, where participants are nonjudgmental and supportive.
The physical effects of withdrawal from PCP include anxiety, tremor, gastrointestinal upset, and cold sweats. To a certain degree, these symptoms can be controlled with medication.

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