What is Angel Dust?

Actually, angel dust is more common than you might think. You don’t hear much about it these days, especially not in comparison to methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin – but it is out there.

Angel dust is also known as PCP, or phencyclidine. It was created in the 1950’s, originally for use as an anesthetic. PCP is now a Schedule II drug listed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Similarly, ketamine, a related drug, was developed shortly thereafter. Ketamine is known on the street as Special K, and is a Schedule III drug.

Some of the effects of angel dust made it quite undesirable in medical use, and it had completely fallen out of favor by the 1960s.

What is Angel Dust? – The Chemicals

PCP is a white, crystal-like powder which is water soluble, and has a very bitter taste. However, contaminants and impurities in processing usually cause the powder to vary in color from light to dark brown. The powder is often snorted.

It is also available in tablet or capsule form. PCP as a liquid is a highly flammable form, as it is dissolved in ether. It can be injected, or sprayed onto the leaves of herbs like mint or marijuana and smoked.

Angel dust interacts with opioid and dopamine brain receptors. It is considered to be a hallucinogen, not dissimilar to LSD, mescaline, magic mushrooms, and MDMA.

What is Angel Dust – Effects

Effects of PCP depend upon the dose. In moderate amounts, the user may have feelings of detachment, or feel at a distance from their environment. Arms and legs may feel numb, and there may be a general loss of coordination, motor skills, and verbal skills. Involuntary eye movements and unusual gait upon walking are not uncommon. Increased respiration, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature may also commonly occur. Inhibition is impaired, and the user may feel invincible. More psychiatric symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations, auditory and visual image distortions
  • Amnesia
  • Mood disorders such as anxiety
  • Feelings of impending doom, paranoia
  • Aggression and hostility
  • Psychosis similar to schizophrenia

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Higher doses can bring upon a decrease in blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. More symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision, rapid eye flickering
  • Lack of balance, dizziness
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death (usually due to injury, not overdose)
  • More intense hallucinations

What is Angel Dust? – More Health Dangers

PCP is very addictive, and can cause psychological dependence, tolerance, and cravings. Regular users may experience memory loss, depression, weight loss, and speech and learning disabilities. It may take several months or longer for these effects to subside.

Like many sedatives, PCP is especially dangerous when taken in combination with other sedatives, such as sleeping pills, alcohol, or benzodiazepines.

In severe case, users may become suicidal or violent and must be monitored and/or restrained.

What is Angel Dust? – The Users

The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2010 that new users of PCP was down from 123,000 in 2002 to 45,000.

PCP is a very dangerous and addictive drug, and even one use can have grave consequences for the user.