Substance Abuse Pcp Ketamine

PCP, ketamine and DXM are classified as dissociate drugs: drugs which, when abused, cause feelings of detachment from one’s body and surroundings, accompanied by distorted perceptions of sight, sound and time. Both PCP and ketamine were developed as general anesthetics. DXM, however, is a legal ingredient found in many over the counter cough medications.


PCP was originally abused as pills in the 1960s, but the pills take some time to generate psychoactive effects. PCP’s popularity quickly fell until the 1970s when angel dust appeared on the market. Originally developed for human use, PCP ( phencyclidine) was never approved for human use, but is used in veterinary medicine.

PCP was originally abused as pills in the 1960s, but as the pills take some time to generate psychoactive effects, PCP’s popularity quickly fell until the 1970s when angel dust appeared on the market. Angel dust is a powdered form of PCP. When smoked or snorted, angel dust’s effects are faster and far more intense.

Angel Dust Effects

Angel dust inhibits specific chemical receptors in the brain, called NMDA receptor complexes. NMDA receptors are required for the transmission of glutamate, a chemical that influences emotions, learning, memory and pain perception. Angel dust also affects dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for the feelings of euphoria and pleasure associated with many illicit drugs.

The effects of PCP depend on the dosage level. A low dose may produce feelings of euphoria and dissociation, coupled with shallow breathing and increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Higher doses (over 10 milligrams) can cause nausea, blurred vision, low pain perception and muscle contractions so strong that bone fractures and kidney damage can occur. High levels also cause dangerous irregularities in blood pressure, heart and lung function.

n exceptionally high dose of angel dust can cause symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, including delusions, paranoia and hallucinations. Additional complications include convulsions, hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature), coma and death.

Once PCP takes effect, the drug may remain active for hours. Angel dust’s effects are notoriously unpredictable. While PCP abusers seek a pleasant, distanced high with sensory distortions, angel dust can also cause panic, fear and terrifying hallucinations. Other PCP trips may trigger violent behavior, debilitating confusion or suicidal behavior.

What Does PCP/Angel Dust Look Like?

Angel dust resembles a fine white powder. Usually white, PCP is sometime dyed different colors before being sold.

PCP is often mixed with other drugs. When smoked, PCP is sprinkled on leafy material. Marijuana and tobacco are obvious choices, although parsley, oregano, basil and other herbs are also used. Angel dust may also be dissolved in liquid, and marijuana is then dipped into the PCP mixture.

PCP is especially dangerous when mixed with benzodiazepines such as Valium or Rohypnol, or when abused with alcohol. Comas and death may result from these combinations.

PCP Addiction

Long term angel dust use can lead to addiction, which includes an intense craving for PCP’s effects. Seeking out and using angel dust becomes the primary goal of the PCP addict.

Ceasing PCP use causes withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms associated with angel dust continue long after PCP use is discontinued. Recovering PCP addicts may experience any of these symptoms up to a year after their last dose:

  • depression
  • impaired cognitive function
  • memory loss
  • speech impairment
  • weight loss.

PCP Street Names

Angel dust goes by a number of other names on the street. Here are a few:

  • busy bee
  • colombo
  • horse tranquilizer
  • lethal weapon
  • mint leaf
  • Peter Pan
  • rocket fuel
  • trank
  • wack

Ketamine: A Date Rape Drug

Like PCP, Ketamine (known on the street as Special K) was developed as an anesthetic. Unlike PCP, ketamine was approved for both human and veterinary medicine. Ketamine is an injectable liquid when produced legitimately. Street ketamine is usually liquid ketamine that has been evaporated until only a powdery residue remains. Special K is either sold in this powdered form, or the powder is used to manufacture ketamine pills.

Special K produces effects similar to PCP, although a dose of ketamine is generally of lower intensity and shorter duration than angel dust. However, this does not mean that ketamine is safer than PCP.

Special K is snorted, smoked, consumed orally, drunk in liquid form or combined with other drugs. Ketamine is also injected into muscle tissue.

Special K and the K-Hole

Like PCP, ketamine has unpredictable effects. Special K may produce feelings of euphoric disconnectedness. At the other extreme, ketamine can produce a terrifying feeling known among Special K users as the K-hole. The K-hole is marked by almost total sensory deprivation, fear and panic.

Ketamine’s Role as a Date Rape Drug

Ketamine has developed a reputation as a date rape drug. It has no odor, is almost tasteless and dissolves easily. Special K is impossible to detect when mixed in a drink, and its dissociative effects make date rape all too easy. Along with the date rape drugs GBH and Rohypnol, ketamine is a concern at raves and other night scenes.

Street Names for Ketamine

In addition to Special K, ketamine also goes by these and other street names:

  • green K
  • honey oil
  • jet
  • kit kat
  • purple
  • special LA coke

DXM: What’s in Your Cough Syrup?

DXM is short for dextromethorphan, a cough suppressing ingredient found in many over the counter medicines. When taken at recommended doses, DXM is safe. When large quantities of DXM are consumed, however, psychoactive reactions similar to ketamine and PCP may occur. You may find that sales of cough syrups are restricted to a certain number of bottles in one transaction.

DXM is abused at high doses. Approximately two ounces of extra strength cough medicine contains enough DXM to generate mild perception distortions. Extra-strength cough syrup is the most common product abused by DXM users.

Once a DXM dose exceeds four ounces of cough syrup, dissociative symptoms increase to a sense of separation from the body. DXM doses are consumed rapidly. Because large doses of cough syrup trigger vomiting, the DXM abuser tries to get as much DXM ingested as possible before vomiting.

Once ingested, DXM’s effects last up to six hours. DXM overdose risks increase with dosage levels. Complicating the impact DXM has on health is the fact many cough medicine also contains antihistamines and decongestants. A combination of high doses of DXM and these ingredients is particularly risky.

Powdered DXM

Powdered varieties of DXM are available on the street. Powdered DXM is made by extracting the DXM from cough syrup. Like ketamine and PCP, powdered DXM can be taken orally or snorted.

DXM Street Names

Dextromethorphan (DXM) also goes by the following slang terms:

  • dex
  • dm
  • drex
  • robo
  • skittles
  • triplec
  • velvet.


Hazelden Staff. (n.d.) Drugs of abuse: Hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from the Hazelden Web site:

National Drug Intelligence Center. (2003). DXM fast facts [Product No. 2003-L0559-022].

National Drug Intelligence Center. (2003). Ketamine fast facts [Product No. 2003-L0559-011].

National Drug Intelligence Center. (2003). PCP fast facts [Product No. 2003-L0559-008].

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (updated 2005, March). PCP (phencyclidine). NIDA InfoFacts.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2001, March). Hallucinogens and dissociative drugs [NIH Publication No. 01-4209]. NIDA Research Report Series.