Why the PCP Detection Timetable Depends on Many Variables

PCP Pills
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Determining exactly how long PCP is detectable in the body depends on many variables, including which kind of drug test is being used. PCP, also known as Angel dust, boat, hog, love boat, embalming fluid, killer weed, rocket fuel, supergrass, wack, ozone, can be detected for a shorter time with some tests but can be "visible" for up to three months in other tests.

The timetable for detecting PCP in the system is also dependent upon each individual's metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, physical activity, health conditions and other factors, making it almost impossible to determine an exact time PCP will show up on a drug test.

PCP Drug Tests Timetable

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which PCP can be detected by various testing methods:

  • Urine Test: 1-10 days, 2-4 weeks
  • Blood Test: 24 hours
  • Saliva Test: 24-48 hours

PCP, like many other drugs, can be detected with a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days.

Certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs may cause a false-positive result for phencyclidine (PCP) in some lab tests, namley:

  • dextromethorphan - Robitussin, Cough DM ER, etc.,
  • ibuprofen - Advil, Motril
  • imipramine - Tofranil, anti-depressant, nerve pain
  • diphenhydramine - Benadryl, antihistamine
  • doxylamine - Unisom, antihistamine, sleep-aid medications
  • ketamine - anesthesia-like / may be used prior to colonoscopy
  • lamotrigine - anti-seizure
  • tramadol - pain medication
  • desvenlafaxine - Pristiq, anti-depressant
  • venlafaxine - Effexor, anti-depressant

Why Dosage Makes a Difference

There is a significant difference between a small amount of PCP compared to a large dosage, in terms of side effects. Therefore, knowing how long PCP remains in your system is important. If you take more of the drug before it is completely metabolized, you could suffer serious side effects.

Even at low dosages, PCP can cause a loss of coordination and numbness throughout your body. On large dosages of PCP, users have been known to become paranoid, suspicious, and not trust others. Some report hearing voices, acting strangely, or become aggressive or violent.

Harmful Side Effects

At normal dosages, PCP can cause an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. But, a large dose of PCP can have the opposite effect and can cause heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate dangerously low.

Very large dosages of PCP taken orally can cause:

  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Seizures
  • Death

Because PCP has anesthesia and pain-killing properties, should serious injury occur during hallucinations, the user may not readily grasp what has happened.

Long-term use of PCP has been found to cause memory problems, cognitive problems, slurred speech or stuttering.

Effects of Withdrawal

Even after you stop using PCP you can experience withdrawal symptoms that can become very serious. Some of the PCP withdrawal symptoms patients have reported include:

  • Feelings of fear or unease
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Twitching
  • Weight loss
  • Increased body temperature
  • Seizures

Addictive Nature

Some people who use PCP can become dependent upon the drug and develop classic symptoms of addiction such as not being able to get through the day without the drug and not being able to control how much of it that they use.

Phencyclidine users can also develop a tolerance to the drug which means they require larger and larger dosages of it to achieve the same effect, which can have negative health consequences as they take increased amounts of the drug.

Treatment

If you find yourself requiring larger amounts of PCP to reach the same "high" as you once experienced, you could be becoming dependent upon the drug and you may want to seek help in trying to quit.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

You may need to enter a residential treatment program so that your withdrawal symptoms are closely monitored and you can receive medication to reduce those withdrawal effects.

Unlike alcohol and some other illicit drugs, there are no medications available to treat PCP dependence by reducing the effects of the drug or reducing craving for the drug for those trying to quit. Behavior therapy is currently the only effective treatment for PCP addiction.

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Article Sources
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  1. Abuse S. Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Clinical drug testing in primary care. Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) 32. HHS Publication No.(SMA) 12-4668. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2012: 1-96.

  2. Farley TM, Anderson EN, Feller JN. False-positive phencyclidine (PCP) on urine drug screen attributed to desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) use. Case Reports. 2017 Nov 22;2017:bcr-2017.

  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Substance Use - Phencyclidine (PCP). Drugs & Supplements. Published online, updated May 2018.

  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). DrugFacts: What Are Hallucinogens? Published online, updated April 2019.

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