How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?
Phencyclidine (PCP) is a potent dissociative and hallucinogenic drug. While this substance used to be used as an anesthetic, it was taken off the market because of several severe side effects it was causing. Today, people abuse PCP by buying it illegally on the street.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 52,000 people aged 12 or older in the United States abused PCP in 2021.
Unfortunately, PCP is extremely dangerous, often causing people to behave in manners they never would sober. Because of the substance’s effects, abusing it is illegal and dangerous. If you are addicted to PCP, it is important to be aware of how long it stays in your system.
What are the Effects of Phencyclidine (PCP)?
Because phencyclidine (PCP) is a dissociative drug, it can make you feel numb or “floaty.” PCP, also known as angel dust, can also induce a “dream-like” state when it is abused. However, PCP is also known to cause aggressive and violent behavior, making it a dangerous substance to use.
The common effects of PCP include:
- Feelings of detachment from one’s surroundings
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Sense of heightened strength and invincibility
- Blank stare and involuntary eye movements
- Increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Heightened body temperature
- Aggressive or violent behavior due to paranoia
Depending on how you abuse PCP, the effects may begin to take place rapidly. If you smoke the substance, you may experience side effects after 3 to 5 minutes. Swallowing PCP will cause the effects to take longer, usually onsetting at about 30 to 60 minutes.
Additionally, the type of effects you experience will depend on how large of a dose you take. People who take extremely large doses of the substance are more likely to experience hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and aggression. It is important to note that it is possible to experience an overdose when taking large amounts of PCP.
How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?
How long phencyclidine stays in your system will depend on a variety of factors. For example, one of the factors that play a role in how long the drug is in your body is how big of a dose you take. Someone who takes large doses of PCP frequently will have the substance in their system longer than others.
Other factors that play a role in how long PCP stays in your system include:
- How long you have been abusing PCP
- How frequently you tend to take phencyclidine
- The dose of PCP you take
- The rate of your metabolism
- Age and body weight
- Liver and kidney functionality
- The method of administration (i.e. smoking or swallowing)
- Whether you use other substances
With that being said, PCP has a half-life of 7 to 46 hours, with 21 hours being average. A drug’s half-life is how long your body takes to eliminate half of the substance. Typically, it takes 5 half-lives to completely eliminate a substance from your body.
The best way to determine how long PCP stays in your system is to look at how long drug tests can detect the substance. The length of time that PCP is detectable depends on the type of drug test you are taking.
Urine tests are the most common type of drug test used. These tests can begin detecting PCP in your system 4 to 6 hours after you abuse the drug. The window for detection is somewhere between 7 to 10 days after you last used PCP.
Saliva tests can detect PCP in your system 5 to 10 minutes after you have used it. Additionally, these tests can detect the substance for up to 3 days after your last dose.
Blood tests are most often used in emergency settings, such as after a drug overdose. These tests can detect PCP in your blood 1 to 4 hours after you use the substance. However, they can only detect phencyclidine for up to 24 hours, making them less reliable for a number of situations.
Lastly, hair tests are the most reliable drug test out there. They can detect any substance, including PCP, in your system for up to 90 days after you last used it.
Get Help for PCP Abuse and Addiction
If you or a loved one frequently abuses phencyclidine, it’s important to seek professional help. PCP can be incredibly damaging over time, putting you at risk of experiencing severe mental health emergencies, so you must attend a drug rehab program that can provide you with the help you need.
At South Carolina Addiction Treatment Center, we can offer you a continuum of care that includes evidence-based behavioral therapy, group counseling, and aftercare planning. Our comprehensive and holistic services will provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term sobriety.
To learn more about our South Carolina addiction treatment program, contact us today.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Phencyclidine, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/pcp.pdf
- The National Library of Medicine: Objective Testing – Urine and Other Drug Tests, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920965/
Medically Reviewed: June 21, 2023
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.