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National Drug Intelligence Center
Product No. 2003-L0559-008

May 2003

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Cover image linked to printable PCP Fast Facts brochure.
Cover photo DEA

Printable brochure (425 KB pdf)

PCP Fast Facts

Questions and Answers 

     - What is PCP?
     - What does PCP look like?
     - How is PCP abused?
     - Who uses PCP? 
     - What are the risks?
     - What is it called?
     - Is PCP illegal?

Other products of interest
Contact us 

National Drug Intelligence Center
a component of the 
U.S. Department of Justice.

hat is PCP?

PCP (phencyclidine) was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic, but its use for humans was discontinued because it caused patients to become agitated, delusional, and irrational. Today individuals abuse PCP because of the mind-altering, hallucinogenic effects it produces.


What does PCP look like?

PCP is a bitter-tasting, white crystalline powder that is easy to dissolve in water or alcohol. PCP may be dyed various colors and often is sold as a tablet, capsule, liquid, or powder.

Photograph of white powder in a foil packet beside a small vial of liquid.

   Image of a cigarette lying below a small vial of liquid.
Maine Drug Enforcement Agency


How is PCP abused?

Users snort PCP powder, swallow tablets and capsules, or smoke the drug by applying it (in powder form) to a leafy substance such as marijuana, mint, parsley, or oregano. In addition, users increasingly are dipping marijuana or tobacco cigarettes in liquid PCP and smoking them.

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Who uses PCP?   

Individuals of all ages use PCP. Data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 6 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older used PCP at least once in their lifetime.

The survey also revealed that many teenagers and young adults use PCP--225,000 individuals aged 12 to 17 and 777,000 individuals aged 18 to 25 used the drug at least once.

PCP use among high school students is a particular concern. More than 3 percent of high school seniors in the United States used the drug at least once in their lifetime, and more than 1 percent used the drug in the past year, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey.


What are the risks?

PCP is an addictive drug; its use often results in psychological dependence, craving, and compulsive behavior. PCP produces unpleasant psychological effects, and users often become violent or suicidal.

PCP poses particular risks for young people. Even moderate use of the drug can negatively affect the hormones associated with normal growth and development. PCP use also can impede the learning process in teenagers.

High doses of PCP can cause seizures, coma, and even death (often as a consequence of accidental injury or suicide while under the drug's effects). At high doses, PCP's effects may resemble the symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including delusions and paranoia.

Long-term use of PCP can lead to memory loss, difficulty with speech or thought, depression, and weight loss. These problems can persist for up to a year after an individual has stopped using PCP.


What is it called?

The most common names for PCP are angel dust, animal tranquilizer, embalming fluid, ozone, rocket fuel, and wack. Marijuana or tobacco cigarettes that are dipped in PCP are called illy, wet, or fry. (Please see the Street Terms text box below for additional names.)

Street Terms for PCP

Animal tranq
Black dust
Crystal t
Dust joint

Goon dust
Happy sticks
Horse tranquilizer
Lethal weapon
Magic dust

Magic dust
Peter Pan

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Is PCP illegal?

Yes,  PCP is illegal. PCP is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine and methamphetamine, have a high potential for abuse. Abuse of these drugs may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.


Other products of interest:

Check out Fast Facts on:

  • Crack cocaine
  • Crystal methamphetamine
  • GHB and analogs
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Jimsonweed
  • Ketamine
  • Khat
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Powdered cocaine
  • Prescription drugs
  • Yaba

Also available from NDIC:

  • Huffing--The Abuse of Inhalants
  • Prescription Drug Abuse and Youth
  • Drugs, Youth, and the Internet

For more information on illicit drugs check out our web site at:  Call 814-532-4541 to request NDIC products.


Contact us

Our addresses:

National Drug Intelligence Center
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Johnstown , PA 15901-1622
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8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001
McLean , VA 22102-3840
  Telephone: 703-556-8970
  FAX: 703-556-7807

NDIC publications are available on the following web sites:

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