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PCP is a Huge Problem in Washington DC… Again

PCP (phencyclidine) is an illegal hallucinogenic drug notorious for causing violent and bizarre behaviors.

Those who are old enough will remember a huge PCP problem gripped the United States in the ‘80s. Widespread abuse caused public panic and then, somewhat mysteriously, the drug seemingly faded away.

Fast-forward to the present day; PCP usage in Washington DC, our nation’s capital, is rampant. In fact, abuse of the hallucinogen is far higher in DC than in any other major U.S. city. The disturbing trend is best seen among people who are arrested and brought in to area jails, with an overwhelming majority of DC inmates testing positive for PCP during the booking process.

…an overwhelming majority of DC inmates [test] positive for PCP during the booking process. 

PCP Flooding the Streets of DC

The latest Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program report, prepared by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, states that nearly 12 percent of men arrested in DC last year had PCP in their systems at the time of arrest. In the other cities evaluated in the report, less than one percent of males arrested tested positive for PCP.

Last year, the federal government’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) announced that PCP-related emergency room visits shot up by more than 400 percent, from 14,825 to 75,538, between 2005 and 2011, the most recent available data.

DC police have seen an increase in PCP-related violence and they’re bracing for more. The number of people arrested for murder and sexual assault charges who also tested positive for PCP jumped to 15 last year, increasing more than 45 percent over the last decade. Unfortunately, experts have no answers as to why the dangerous hallucinogen is so popular among DC addicts.

What You Need to Know About PCP

PCP not only induces vivid hallucinations, it also causes very sudden, unpredictable swings in behavior.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) labels PCP as a “dissociative anesthetic.” The drug distorts how users process sights and sounds. It also causes sedation, amnesia, and produces a sense of detachment from the surrounding environment and even from oneself. PCP not only induces vivid hallucinations, it also causes very sudden, unpredictable swings in behavior. In some cases, PCP users display extraordinary acts of strength and commit unspeakable violence.

Side Effects
-Impaired memory
-Inability to think clearly
-Inability to speak
-Rapid up and down eye movements
-Loss of Balance
-Suicidal thoughts/tendencies
-Severe paranoia and anxiety
-Stripping off clothes, running naked in public

PCP is most often found as a white crystalline powder that is soluble in water or alcohol. It can be easily mixed and often turns up in a number of tablets, capsules, and colored powders. It is usually snorted, smoked, or eaten.

PCP is sold and used in multiple forms. The powdered form is known as angel dust, while the dissolved oily yellow tincture is called “wet.” In the ‘80s, PCP users dipped marijuana cigarettes into a tiny bottle of PCP. Today, PCP users are dipping store-bought cigarettes into a bottle tincture, known as “making them wet.” The laced cigarettes are sold on the streets of DC for about $25 apiece. Other common street names for these deadly smokes include Embalming Fluid, Dippers, Love Boat, Fry, and Purple Rain.

The side effects of PCP are bad enough, but phencyclidine is also very addictive. With each subsequent use, tolerance to the drug builds. That means users will need to use more and more in order to get the same effect. What’s more, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Withdrawal from PCP is a very dangerous process that should only be performed under the careful supervision of medical professionals. Formal PCP treatment is also sometimes recommended.

PCP in the News

  • While on PCP, rapper Andre Johnson, a.k.a. Christ Bearer, cut off his own penis and jumped off a second story apartment balcony.
  • An autopsy report concluded that Rodney King, former star of Celebrity Rehab, had cocaine and PCP in his system at the time of death.
  • Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was a frequent user of PCP. Due to his drug-induced paranoia, Hernandez carried a gun at all times. He was convicted of first degree murder last year.

Also Read: First Look at President Obama’s 2014 Drug Control Strategy