PCP (Phencyclidine): Therapeutic use
Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:46 pm
PCP was originally developed as an anesthetic to be used in surgery and obstetrics. However, the drug stopped being used for this purpose in the 1960s because it can produce disturbing side effects. Since then, PCP has had no recognized Therapeutic use in humans. However, new research suggests that giving PCP to people right after a heart attack or stroke might help protect their brains from permanent damage. This intriguing possibility was still under investigation in 2002. Researchers are looking for a drug that can protect the brain like PCP does without causing the disturbing Mental effects.
PCP is currently being studied in animals because it appears to produce changes in the brain that are associated with schizophrenia. People taking PCP often experience effects that are very similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia, including disordered thinking, hallucinations, paranoia, and disrupted speech. Research into the effects of PCP on animal brains may help scientists better understand what is wrong with the brains of people with schizophrenia and lead to the development of better treatments.
After using PCP once, most people will not use it again. However, a few people (called ‘dusters’) do use it regularly and consistently. The drug is addictive, and many users say that the only reason they continue taking the drug is because they are addicted. Others use it because it gives them a sense of peace and/or strength. It also numbs physical and emotional pain.
Chronic PCP users often go on PCP “runs” or “sprees,” where they use the drug for two to three days straight, during which time they may eat and sleep very little. Afterwards, they sleep for an extended period of time and wake feeling disoriented and depressed.
People who take PCP often combine it with other drugs, including cocaine, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine, amphetamine, marijuana, and crack. Another common practice is to take a type of tranquilizer called a benzodiazepine to come down off PCP when the party is over. These practices of combining PCP with other drugs is particularly common among young people who attend dance clubs and raves.
Scope and severity
The first reports of illicit use of PCP occurred in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in 1967 during the Summer of Love. People who took the drug in these early days did so in tablet form and called it the peace pill because it created feeling of peacefulness. Soon, however, as more and more people started having negative experiences on PCP, it became clear how inappropriate that name was.
By the summer of 1968, PCP use dropped off dramatically in Haight-Ashbury, but it started to increase in other parts of the United States, mainly urban centers like Miami, Washington D.C., and New York. Once again, stories of bad trips began to follow the drug, and experienced drug takers began avoiding it.
PCP reemerged in early 1970s as a liquid, crystalline powder, and tablet. At this point, drug manufacturers started selling it as other drugs because the negative associations with PCP made it hard to sell. In addition to sensational stories of nightmarish, violent reactions to the drug, it developed a negative reputation as an animal tranquilizer. As a result, PCP commonly was sold as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It was also sold as cannabinol, mescaline, psilocybin, LSD, amphetamine, cocaine, Hawaiian woodrose, and other psychedelics. Low-quality marijuana was laced with PCP to make it seem more potent. Regular cooking herbs like parsley were laced with PCP and sold as marijuana. Some people also took PCP knowing that it was PCP, despite increasing sensational stories (some of which were passed on by the mainstream media) about its ill effects. Those who took the drug developed reputations for being daring.
Since the 1970s, the popularity of PCP has had a waxing and waning course with the occasional “mini-epidemic.” According to the DEA, the drug regained some popularity in the mid-1970s and early 1980s because it is very cheap and powerful, but its use was soon eclipsed by that of crack and cocaine in the mid-1980s. Since the 1990s, PCP has increased in popularity as one of the club drugs people take at dance clubs and raves. It remains widely available, particularly in major U.S. urban centers. The drug is rarely seen outside of North America.
The Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) is a survey performed every year since 1975 by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research on nearly 17,000 American high school students about their drug use. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). According to the MTF, PCP use has declined steadily since 1979 among high school seniors. In 1979, 7% reported using PCP in the previous year, compared to only 2.3% in 1997. A low point for its use was 1990, when only 1.2% of high school seniors said they had used the drug in the past year.
The 1998 report of the American Poison Control Center documents 372 PCP exposures and two PCP-related deaths.
Most manufacture of PCP is controlled by Los Angeles street gangs, and most users also take other drugs.
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
PCP is a drug that is preferred by young people living in large cities. It is popular among Hispanic and African Americans, but Caucasians use it too. Most users are males aged 20 to 29, but there is also considerable use of PCP among teenagers.
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) tracks drug, alcohol, and tobacco use in a sample of 13,000 Americans aged 12 and over. According to the 1997 NHSDA survey, 3% of Americans over 12 had ever used PCP. Most of those who reported ever having used PCP were aged 26 and older (3.3%). However, the highest proportion of people who reported use of PCP in the past year were aged 12 to 17 (0.5%).
The 1997 NHSDA also found that twice as many men use PCP than women and that it is more often used in the Western portion of the country and least used in the South. In 1997, 3.4% of Caucasians, 2.1% of His-panics, and 1.7% of African Americans reported ever taking PCP. In this same year, hospital admissions for PCP use were about equally distributed among Caucasians, Hispanics, and African Americans.
Since the mid-1990s, PCP has gained popularity among teens as a drug to take while attending dance clubs and raves.
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