Phencyclidine (PCP), also known as angel dust among other names, is a drug used for its mind-altering effects. PCP may cause hallucinations, distorted perceptions of sounds, and violent behavior. As a recreational drug, it is typically smoked, but may be taken by mouth, snorted, or injected. It may also be mixed with cannabis or tobacco.
Adverse effects may include seizures, coma, addiction, and an increased risk of suicide. Flashbacks may occur despite stopping usage. Chemically, PCP is a member of the arylcyclohexylamine class, and pharmacologically, it is a dissociative anesthetic. PCP works primarily as an NMDA receptor antagonist.
PCP is most commonly used in the United States. While usage peaked there in the 1970s, between 2005 and 2011 an increase in visits to emergency departments as a result of the drug occurred. As of 2017 in the United States about 1% of people in grade twelve reported using PCP in the prior year while 2.9% of those over the age of 25 reported using it at some point in their life.
PCP was initially made in 1926 and brought to market as an anesthetic medication in the 1950s. Its use in humans was disallowed in the United States in 1965 due to the high rates of side effects while its use in other animals was disallowed in 1978. Moreover, ketamine was discovered and was better tolerated as an anesthetic. PCP is currently illegal in the United States where it is classified as a schedule II drug. A number of derivatives of PCP have been sold for recreational and non-medical use.