Summary: Taking any sort of illicit drug is a crap shoot. Evidence suggests that there can be long term effects from PCP after you have stopped taking the drug. The problem is there is no way to detect your risk of these side effects – which usually show up looking like schizophrenia (paranoia, hearing voices, etc.). These ‘flashbacks’ can last upwards of a month at a time and are unpredictable.
Dear Curtis: I was just wondering what the long term effects of PCP are? I know that it can cause a lot of bodily damage but can you feel ill from it purely just being still in your system or fat cells and how long does this last?
PCP – or Phencyclidine – is well absorbed into your body no matter how it is taken (smoked, intravenously, orally or nasally). The thing about PCP, which you touched upon, is that it is highly lipid soluble. Which means it can be stored very easily in fat and brain tissue.
As far as how long a hit can last – it depends.
How Long PCP Stays In Your Body
PCP’s half life (how long it takes for your body to get rid of 1/2 of the drug) can last up to 45 hours. In five half lives we consider the drug essentially out of your system. So, lets say 10 days maximum for the drug to basically not be detected in your body anymore and for the immediate effects to be gone.
However, there is a long-term dark side to PCP. And that is you can have ‘flash backs’ or more accurately, psychotic episodes which actually closely resemble someone who has schizophrenia (1).
These sorts of reactions can last upwards of a month which brings another, very dangerous, element to PCP use. More so, these schizophrenic-like periods can happen well after you’ve stopped PCP.
Compounding this problem: it’s hard to tell what your actual risk is of this happening because it really hasn’t been studied and appears to vary from user to user quite wildly. It can also show up in folks who have not used PCP for some time.
From the evidence I’ve been able to take a look at it does appear that your risk for long term side effects from PCP use increases with chronic use. If you tried the drug once, or even occasionally, you could still be at risk – albeit a lower one. But, with illicit drugs like PCP that are coming from God knows where you just never know.
- C Wang, et al. Long-term behavioral and neurodegenerative effects of perinatal phencyclidine administration: implications for schizophrenia. Neuroscience Volume 107, Issue 4, 28 November 2001, Pages 535-550