Overview: Lots of people wished it would disappear
forever, but PCP never really went away after its disastrous
heyday in the 1970’s. The drug (known chemically as phencyclidine,
but better known on the street as angel dust) only ducked underground,
waiting for its reputation as a bummer drug to die down.
Apparently, it did — for a while,
at least — because a few years ago, while no one was looking,
PCP was suddenly back — this time, mixed with formaldehyde and
dripped onto cigarettes in a mind-numbing concoction known as
“wet.” That’s when an all-new generation got its own
chance to find out about a nasty, old-school problem drug.
Street Names: Illy, wet, hydro, fry, matrix, dank,
amp, or sherms, depending on area.
Appearance: Ordinary cigarettes are dipped in a
PCP solution, or loose tobacco or marijuana is saturated, dried,
and rolled into cigarettes.
Actions/Effects: Developed as a surgical anesthetic,
PCP was abandoned medically (except for veterinary use) because
of its bizarre psychological effects in human beings. Effects
vary widely, often combining stimulant, depressant, anesthetic,
and hallucinogenic drug properties.
Risks/Side Effects: The effects
of PCP are extremely broad, and vary depending on dose:
- Low Doses: PCP triggers feelings of stimulation,
euphoria, and lowers inhibitions at low doses. It also causes
sweating, impaired coordination and judgment, and slurred speech.
- Moderate Doses: At higher doses, central nervous system
activity slows further, resulting in a confused, numb intoxication.
Body image distortion and reduced sensitivity to pain are also
- High Doses: CNS effects intensify and include agitation,
aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and insensitivity
to pain. Blood pressure drops sharply, accompanied by muscular
rigidity and convulsions, leading even to coma and death.
Other risks are linked to the
“toxic behavior” of PCP users. Due to the delusions
and sensory distortions fueled by PCP, users may initiate acts
of violence, or become victims of such mishaps as fires and drownings.
Trends: As trends go, “wet” seems to have come
and gone, as numbers on several national surveys, tracking use
and problems linked to the drug, have declined recently.
Demographics: Although one national survey showed
a 14 percent increase in PCP use between 2005 and 2006, numbers
have plunged sharply in the years since. According to the National
Drug Use Survey released in 2010, only 45,000 Americans were
estimated to have tried PCP for the first time during the previous