Phencyclidine toxicity

Note: this page is about the drug phencyclidine. For the infection, see PCP pneumonia


  • Also known as: PCP, "angel dust", "dippers", "supergrass", "whack", "rocket fuel"
  • Synthetic piperidine derivative, structurally similar to ketamine
  • NMDA inhibitor, at high doses, can also act as norepinepherine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor, and interact with opioid, acetylcholine, and voltage-gated ion channel receptors
  • Dissociative anesthetic
  • Smoked, ingested, or injected
  • Sometimes combined with tobacco, marijuana ("wet"), crack cocaine, or other drugs

Clinical Features

  • Onset/duration of action dependant on route of administration; onset usually ~5 minutes if snorted, usually lasts 4-6 hours but can be longer if high dose
  • Symptoms can fluctuate from CNS depression to excitation
  • Wide range of symptoms due to PCP's cholinergic, anticholinergic, and sympathomimetic properties
    • Nystagmus (very common), ataxia
    • Hypertension, hypertensive crisis
    • Dissociation
    • Feelings of strength, invulnerability, hallucinations
    • Agitation, unpredictable behavior, violence
    • Tachycardia
    • Dystonia, muscle rigidity
    • Hyperthermia
  • Excited delirium
    • Seizure
    • Coma or apparent comatose state (if very dissociated)

Differential Diagnosis

Drugs of abuse

Movement Disorders and Other Abnormal Contractions




  • Discharge if only minor medical complications and behavior normalizes

See Also


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