Chat with us, powered by LiveChat What are the Dangers and Side Effects of Angel Dust? - Carolina Center

What are the Dangers and Side Effects of Angel Dust? - Carolina Center

Angel dust is a popular street name for phencyclidine (PCP). PCP is known as an extremely dangerous drug that leads to hallucinations and dissociative states. Although many people experience “bad trips” while high on angel dust, the drug is still widely abused today.

Once used as a surgical sedative, angel dust is a schedule II controlled substance because it poses a high risk for abuse and addiction. Despite the illegal status, PCP is manufactured in clandestine labs and contains a number of unknown additives. Furthermore, it poses serious health risks to the mind and body of people who abuse it.

In order to better understand what angel dust is, let’s take a deeper look into how it affects the body and what risks are associated with abusing it.

What is Phencyclidine (PCP)?

PCP is a dissociative drug that distorts one’s sense of sight, smell, sound, self, and surroundings. Originally developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic, human medical use was quickly discontinued in 1979 due to serious neurotoxic side effects that began to occur. Shortly thereafter, ketamine replaced the medicinal use of PCP.[1]

Still, PCP is sold under the name of “angel dust” on the streets and comes in a crystalline powder form. However, as an illicit drug, manufacturers often add a number of additives and contaminants that can cause the color, appearance, and potency of the drug to vary. People might smoke or inject PCP, while others will snort or swallow them in tablet form.

Angel Dust

Other names for PCP include:

  • Angel dust
  • Elephant tranquilizer
  • Hog
  • Ozone
  • Wack
  • Rocket fuel
  • Superglass

The drug directly affects the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, leading to a variety of emotional and physical side effects.

How Does Angel Dust Affect the Body?

Angel dust is considered an extremely dangerous drug because it produces intense and worrisome side effects. For example, angel dust affects the body in the following ways:

  • People may feel distant, detached, or estranged from their physical surroundings
  • Numbness of the arms and legs, slurred speech, or loss of coordination may occur
  • Some people might experience a heightened perceived sense of strength
  • Individuals might have a blank stare or rapid eye movements
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations may occur
  • Short term memory loss is common with PCP abuse
  • People might experience feelings of impending doom, intense anxiety and paranoia, and even violent or schizophrenic tendencies

If someone is displaying these signs and symptoms, he or she might be under the influence of PCP.

Furthermore, angel dust affects bodily functions in a variety of different ways. For example, in low doses, people might experience an increase in breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure along with profuse sweating. On the other hand, high doses of PCP might produce more serious side effects, such as:[2]

  • A drop in respiration, pulse, and blood pressure
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Drooling
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness
  • Violent or suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Once users begin experiencing hallucinations, they refer to this as a “trip.” However, angel dust is known to cause scary hallucinations and delusions, causing many people to experience “bad trips.” Overall, the effects of PCP last between 6 and 24 hours.

What are the Dangers of Abusing Angel Dust?

As with all recreational and prescription drugs of abuse, there are many dangers associated with angel dust abuse. PCP produces sedative-life effects, so there is a significant risk for overdose when taken in high doses. Similarly, when combined with other depressants like alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, the side effects of these drugs are exacerbated and place individuals at an even higher risk of accidental overdose.

That being said, an overdose isn’t the only danger of PCP abuse. In fact, many people who are brought into the emergency room because of an overdose on this drug become hostile or violent when confronted with strangers. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to keep people calm and relaxed while they are under the influence of PCP because some people experience frightening hallucinations and delusions.

Like other drugs of abuse, people who abuse this drug for extended periods of time may also place themselves at risk for developing hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases that are associated with shared needles and drug addiction.[3]

Lastly, angel dust is known to produce long term physiological effects, such as memory loss, cognitive decline, depression, and weight loss. Moreover, some people may develop a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) – a condition that causes flashbacks and hallucinations for an extended period of time, even after stopping substance abuse. As a result, if you or a loved one has been abusing PCP, it is vital that you seek help as soon as possible.

Can You Get Addicted to PCP?

Angel dust is an addictive drug. People who abuse it over an extended period of time will likely develop a tolerance. As a result, they have to use increasing amounts of the drug in order to achieve their desired high. However, with tolerance comes physical dependence. This means the body adapts to having the drug in the system and it is thrown out of balance when the drug is absent from the body.

As people take more and more of the drug, the associated risks become more likely. Not only that but once the body is dependent on PCP, it experiences withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug. While withdrawing from angel dust, people experience the following symptoms:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Headaches

Although PCP withdrawal is typically not life-threatening, it can be difficult to overcome on your own. Instead, help from a drug detox is the best option for anyone suffering from addiction.

Find Help Today

Getting sober is a scary thought. We know that it isn’t easy. We also know that asking for help can be the hardest part. If you or a loved one has been abusing PCP and can’t seem to stop for good and for all, contact us today. As a family-owned and operated drug and alcohol treatment center, we’re dedicated to providing each patient and their families with the undivided attention and care that they deserve.

So don’t wait any longer – pick up the phone and call today to learn more about our North Carolina addiction treatment programs.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.