PCP Addiction Treatment

In this article, you’ll learn how to understand and identify addiction. Then, we’ll explain how you can find appropriate treatment. Finally, we list your rehab options…a comprehensive GUIDE to PCP addiction and its treatment here!

minute read

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Learn how to identify PCP addiction … and take steps to get better. This article covers the basics on addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient rehab. Learn what to do if you have a PCP problem here.



Psychoactive Effects

PCP – or phencyclidine – is a powerful hallucinogen drug known for causing euphoria and giving users a feeling of possessing superhuman strength. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), this drug causes effects by disrupting the actions of the brain chemical “glutamate” at certain types of receptors on nerve cells throughout the brain. Glutamate plays a major role in cognition, including:

  • emotion
  • learning
  • memory
  • the perception of pain

PCP also alters the actions of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the euphoria and “rush” associated with addiction. But in addition, PCP use is extremely harmful, with some of the common effects including:

  • agitation
  • dissociation (feeling of separation) from self
  • feelings of invulnerability

Long term and large doses of the drug in a short amount of time can lead to:

  • increased paranoia
  • mood problems
  • kidney damage
  • liver damage

…and even death, usually as a result of impulsive decisions made while under the influence of the drug, accidental injury or suicide.

Is PCP Addictive?

Yes, PCP is thought to be addictive.

Experts have noted that people who try to quit the drug after  repeated use of experience drug cravings, headaches, and sweating as common withdrawal symptoms. However, there is limited research done on the addictive qualities of hallucinogens like PHP. This is why, while currently accepted that terminating repetitive use will lead to withdrawal symptoms… it is not clear how addictive PCP is in relation to other drugs.

Still, the Drug Enforcement Administration  (DEA) enforces PCP as a Schedule II drug via the Controlled Substances Act.

PCP affects many areas of the brain. Anyone who’s having trouble quitting on their own can benefit from professional help.

Do I Need Help?

If you’re worried about your use of PCP, it might be time to seek help. If you are not sure whether your “harmless” abuse has turned into a condition that requires medical attention, signs of dependence may include:

  1. Craving to use PCP.
  2. An inability to cut back or completely refrain from PCP.
  3. Spending money to buy PCP even though it causes financial hardship.
  4. Obtaining PCP at any cost even when it requires uncharacteristic behavior, i.e. stealing, prostitution, etc.
  5. Continuing and increasing doses of PCP despite experiencing consequences related to use.
  6. Spending an inordinate amount of time using, acquiring, and recovering from PCP use.
  7. Failing to meet responsibilities at school, home, or work due to PCP use.
  8. Continuing use even when interpersonal and social problems are caused by or worsened by PCP.
  9. Sacrificing hobbies and other enjoyable activities in favor of PCP use.
  10. Using PCP in dangerous situations such as when driving a motor vehicle.
  11. Developing tolerance, or needing more PCP to feel the same high.
  12. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping use or discontinuing doses.

Luckily, treatment for PCP addiction is available! If you recognize some of these signs of addiction in yourself, recovery can get you back on track.

Why Rehab?

The best and safest way to get off PCP is under medical care and monitoring of doctors and nurses at a rehab center. Rehabilitation facilities that offer personalized programs can be found by searching the SAMHSA database online, looking through a local phone book, or by calling a dedicated drug abuse or addiction helpline.

Q: Why seek help from rehabilitation facilities who tailor-make their programs?
A: Every person is different.

This means that what works for one person may not work for you, which is why it’s important that rehabs customize programs. So, we suggest that do your research and find an addiction rehab that offers the type of treatment, duration of program, mix of therapies, and accompanying amenities that fit your needs.

Evidence-based treatment models include a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and supporting therapies (nutrition, exercise, and social support). The most current scientific research into addiction indicates that clinical experience and personal preferences can help determine the best plan for each person and their circumstances. By meeting our individual recovery needs, reputable rehab programs aim to treat each person as a ‘whole’ – mind, body, and soul.


Q: How long do rehab programs last?
A: Inpatient and outpatient programs can last 30, 60, 90 days or more if needed.

The duration of your treatment stay depends on your individual case and time needed for physical and psychological stabilization, therapy, and education.

What Treatment is Like

There are several basics that every rehab program should cover. Addiction treatment usually plays out in the following stages:

1st STAGE: Intake Evaluation.

When you arrive at the treatment facility, expect to go through a thorough physical and psychological evaluation to determine your general health state, level of dependence, and whether you are struggling with an untreated mental illness. The results of these initial assessment serve to detect your specific treatment needs and outline a treatment plan for you.

2nd STAGE: Medical Detox.

The process of monitored detox serves to slowly decrease your physical dependence on PCP under the careful eyes of trained medical staff, who provide assistance and support 24-hours a day. Medical detox can help you manage the symptoms of acute withdrawal from PCP in a controlled environment to improve comfort, minimize any risks, and improve future treatment prognosis.

3rd STAGE: Rehab Program Type (Inpatient vs. Outpatient)

Inpatient (residential) rehab allows you to take a break from the stressors of your life and removes you from the environment where PCP is available and used. This type or rehab allows you to fully commit to your recovery by residing at the facility while receiving a multitude of services such as, individual therapy, group counseling, mental health services, and aftercare planning.

Outpatient treatment rehab allows you to live at home and take care of your home, work, or school responsibilities while attending treatment around your schedule. Outpatient rehab is not recommended for those with a severe addiction, and it’s effectiveness can be limited in such cases.

4th STAGE: Therapies

Psychotherapy and behavioral therapies are effective in treating addiction. Talk therapy aims to reverse negative behavior patterns and thoughts, boosting positive self-images and self-esteem, as well as uncovering and resolving the root causes of your addiction behavior. Reputable addiction treatment centers will usually provide a variety of therapeutic approaches to rehab, some of which may include:

Individual Therapy – Each member of the treatment program should receive the minimum of one session per week (2-3 sessions per week is found to be more effective) with an individual counselor to address co-occurring disorders and factors leading up to the development of an addiction.

Group Therapy. Group therapy sessions allow you to work through your issues in an environment full of the support of peers that know what you are going through or are currently walking in the same shoes as you.

Family Therapy. Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. As such, the whole family needs to work together to help mend broken relationships, and learn about the nature of addiction and the process of recovery.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that helps you sort through your negative emotions and thoughts and replace them with more positive ways of viewing your addiction.

Motivational Interviewing. Motivational interviewing is an approach that seeks to help you learn to change, set goals, and meet them.

Dual Diagnosis. The vast majority of people addicted to PCP have underlying psychiatric problems that need to be addressed as issues separate from the substance use problem.

In addition to these effective therapeutic treatments, rehab centers may also offer alternative therapies as a means to treat your mind, body, and spirit. These may include:

  • A.A./N.A.
  • Non-12-Step programs
  • Vocational planning
  • Meditation
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Recreational programs and wellness activities.
  • Art therapy
  • Spiritual counseling

5th STAGE: Aftercare Programs

Treatment facilities often develop goals for the future and determine the best plan of action for your next recovery steps. They can also ensure that you have the proper referrals to a local therapist or find community resources you can rely upon to continue your recovery.

Why Call a Hotline?

A reputable recovery hotline is a safe and confidential line where you can access the information you need to help yourself or a loved one. Our hotline is:

Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

When you CALL our helpline , we’ll work to get you the help you need. You can talk openly and honestly about:

  • Your drug of choice.
  • How long you’ve been using.
  • How much and how often you use.
  • Whether or not you’re drinking or using other drugs.
  • Other mental health issues you’re battling.

Most importantly, our hotline staffers know how to listen. They understand what you are going through and will offer strategies and information about treatment services that can best help you. So, why wait? Call TODAY to find the best treatment program for your needs, location and budget.

Financial Concerns

The cost of PCP treatment can be an issue. Even though you may recognize that PCP use is a serious problem that requires treatment, you may feel like you don’t have the financial support to pay for a costly rehab stay.

The actual price tag of a program will depend on what type of treatment center you choose, the length of the program, and where it’s located. Still, there are financing options you should look into that can help you pay for addiction rehab.

GOT INSURANCE? Call our helpline to find out what kind of treatment coverage you have and get options based on your insurance.

GOT NO INSURANCE? Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) toll-free helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to get referrals to local treatment centers, support groups and community organizations.

Want to explore OTHER PAYMENT OPTIONS? Other ways you can finance PCP addiction treatment include:

Medicaid or Medicare. These two government-run programs may cover some forms of treatment or a portion of the rehab cost.

Payment plan. Some inpatient PCP treatment centers will work out a payment plan for you so you can pay off the cost of rehab over time.

Sliding scale. Some treatment programs may offer some flexibility and lower the cost of rehab by basing it on how much you are able to pay.

Loans, credit cards and crowdfunding. Other ways to finance your recovery include using a credit card, taking out a loan, borrowing from a 401(k), selling assets or crowdfunding.

Fear of Withdrawal

When a chronic PCP user suddenly stops taking the hallucinogen, a number of different unpleasant withdrawal symptoms may arise that require clinical supervision or medical attention. Some of the commonly experienced PCP withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • difficulties thinking
  • fatigue
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances

In addition, withdrawal symptoms can also include cravings that can lead to relapse without professional support.

So, if you are someone who has attempted to stop PCP use on their own before and relapsed due to the harsh symptoms…we understand why you’d fear going down that hellish road before. Stopping PCP is uncomfortable and painful, but continuing use is not the way out of this problem.


There is a way out of this vicious PCP abuse cycle!
Call us TODAY to find the right withdrawal help option for you.
You are not alone!


Treatment centers make quitting less difficult by providing therapies for management of withdrawal symptoms as well as moral and psychological support throughout the process. When you decide it’s time to quit PCP for good, you will need stabilization to increase orientation and allow you to move forward with treatment…we can help you with that!

PCP Emergency Help: When to Call 911?

Even in low doses, PCP is extremely dangerous and can produce:

  • shallow breathing
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • numbness
  • sweating
  • loss of muscle coordination

If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please CALL 911 or have someone near you (who is sober) to take you to the nearest ER immediately.

If you have a friend or a loved one who has taken PCP and is now displaying unusual and potentially life-threatening symptoms don’t wait to call in emergency help. Keep in mind that the drug causes some users to become violent, which can be dangerous to others near a PCP user and even lead to encounters with law enforcement. Here is what you can do when a person needs help without getting yourself hurt:

#1. Call 911.
#2. Inform the contact representative that the person has taken PCP and perhaps any other substances with it.
#3. Provide clear instructions about your location.
#4. Stay on the phone with medical professionals to receive instructions about how to aid the person until they arrive on the scene (only if safe).
#5. In case the person is still acting erratically and angry, it is recommended that you stay at a secure location for your own safety and wait for the paramedics (and possibly police) to arrive.

PCP Dual Diagnosis Treatment

PCP addiction and abuse commonly occur with a number of different disorders. These co-occurring disorders include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse of Other Drugs

When your PCP addiction is associated with another psychoactive substance, or it is aggravating or causing mental health problems, then it is a part of a dual diagnosis. All co-occurring mental health conditions require appropriate treatment that offers simultaneous mental health and substance abuse treatment, which is crucial for many people to be successful in their sobriety.

How to Help a Loved One

If you have a family member or a friend who abuses PCP, it is important to understand how to address the situation in a supportive manner. Watching your loved one live with an active addiction to PCP is not an option, so you need to find ways to encourage them to regain control of their lives by entering treatment.

Here are some tips to help you approach an addicted loved one:

1. Be supportive and nonjudgmental without enabling. Make it clear that you do not support the drug habit but you do support the person. Do not make excuses for your loved one’s PCP abuse or offer financial support. Resources like the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) are available to help you prepare for a conversation with a PCP addict.

2. Don’t threaten or isolate them. Instead, be open and receptive, and remind yourself that what your loved one is going through is not easy. Try to emphasize personal choice and control by saying things such as:

  • “It really is up to you to decide quit this drug.”
  • “No one else can quit PCP for you.”
  • “No one can make you go to rehab. You have to want to go yourself.”

3. Stage an intervention if they are in denial or refusing to get help. An intervention is generally a meeting of family, friends, and loved ones that is often planned without the knowledge of the person struggling with drug abuse or addiction. You can hire a licensed interventionist to help you plan the meeting and achieve the overall goal of the intervention – to motivate someone addicted to PCP to enter a treatment program voluntarily.

4. Encourage them throughout the process. Motivate them to attend treatment and follow treatment protocols once they are in recovery from PCP addiction.

5. Get involved in the process. If a loved one attends self-help groups, see if you can attend meetings too. Groups like Al-Anon, A.A. or N.A. can encourage peer support for yourself and your loved one during this period of time.

6. CALL A DRUG ABUSE HELPLINE. Getting treatment can be emotionally exhausting and physically uncomfortable from time to time, but it’s as simple as picking up the phone to get started. Contact one of our addiction treatment counselors and learn how you can help your loved one start their journey back from addiction. Questions we typically ask include:

Which substance/drug does the person abuse?
What other drugs or alcohol do you think they’re using?
How do they abuse PCP?
How long do you suspect they have been using?
How long they’ve been showing signs of addiction?
How much can they afford to pay for treatment?
Is insurance an option?
Could you (and/or other close family members) help them out financially?
Does the addicted individual suffer from any mental, behavioral, or co-occurring disorders?

After Rehab Ends

When formal treatment is complete, a comprehensive aftercare plan should includes continued visitations with your treatment center counselor as well as relapse prevention coaching. Relapse prevention techniques for PCP addiction should involve:

Learning about the relapse process.
Training in identifying warning signs and high-risk situations.
Developing coping skills and stress-management skills.
Addressing pleasant memories of stimulant use.
Reminding users not to test the limits of their sobriety.
Developing a lifestyle that’s protective.
Coaching in addressing slips.

As you can see, this is a long task list…which is why aftercare help extends into the weeks and months that follow formal treatment. You can receive this ongoing support in the form of:

Individual or group counseling
12-step programs
Non-12-step support groups
Sober living arrangements (sober living homes, halfway houses, three quarter (¾) recovery houses)
Alumni involvement

These elements aim to help you stay involved with the sobriety community, and prompt you to continue to work on your recovery, so they won’t slip back into destructive habits.

Your Questions

We hope to have covered the basics related to quitting PCP and getting help. But, we understand that you may still have questions.

Please leave your questions in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers! And we’ll try to get back to you…personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Hallucinogens
NIH: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
SAMHSA: Treatments for Substance Use Disorders
NCBI: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?