Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Phencyclidine (PCP): PCP is also known as angel dust, Love
Boat, lovely, elephant tranquilizer, crystal, crystal joints (CJs), TAC, hog, and the sheets. It was first used in the 1950s as a general anesthetic with rapid onset but few side effects. It was rapidly discontinued in the mid 1960s because it created problems such as losing contact with reality or depression for people after surgery. By the late 1960s, it was solely used as a veterinary tranquilizer.
PCP abuse started in San Francisco, where the drug was known as the Peace Pill. PCP abuse first became widespread during the 1970s. The drug is easy and inexpensive to make and is often sold as other drugs, such as psilocybin, cocaine, amphetamine, LSD, and synthetic THC (marijuana). This has added to its wide consumption.
What it looks like: Phencyclidine is available as white powder, liquid, tablets, leaf mixtures, and rock crystal forms. It is readily absorbed in water and alcohol. It can be smoked, inhaled, ingested, and injected. Leaf mixtures are made by sprinkling powder on tobacco, marijuana, mint, or parsley. Menthol cigarettes dipped into liquid PCP are known as supercools. Other names of cigarette PCP mixtures are hydro, dip,
dippers, wet, and fry.
What it does: PCP produces a dissociative state or an "out-of-body" experience. It produces symptoms similar to ketamine. The effects are felt most quickly with intravenous use (within minutes) and usually last for
four to six hours. PCP crosses into the brain to produce dissociative symptoms (feeling disconnected), amnesia, delirium, disordered thought processes, frequent loss of ideas, paranoia, apathy, depersonalization (for
example, the user feels like they are out of their own body, perhaps watching themselves as if they are on television), illusions, and delusions.
Harmful effects: In large overdoses, symptoms can last from 24-48 hours. The dissociation can resemble schizophrenia. An overdose can produce high blood pressure, hostility, and alterations of body images. These unintentional actions have resulted in people jumping from heights. Neurologic signs, such as uncontrolled eye movements, inability to maintain balance, and difficulty speaking, may also occur. Users may lose consciousness (pass out) with large doses.
Ketamine: Ketamine, also known as special K, K, vitamin K, and fort dodge, is a derivative of PCP (a powerful psychedelic
drug) that has become increasingly popular. Although more difficult to produce
than PCP, users can obtain large, inexpensive quantities from some veterinary
pharmacies. Ketamine is commonly used in hospitals for sedation and pain relief.
What it looks like: Ketamine is abused in clubs and other social situations. Most often, ketamine is inhaled, but it may also be injected into muscle or fat just below the skin or placed into the rectum. It has also been used to ease the crash associated with cocaine or amphetamine binges.
What it does: Ketamine increases blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tone, and salivation. The clinical effects begin within minutes and last up to an hour. Overdose, which is often referred to as falling into a "K hole," is common. Overdose is characterized by severe brain-body dissociation, or inability to sense what the environment is really like, and vomiting, restlessness, and tiredness. Ketamine can also produce an emergence reaction resulting in nightmares, floating sensation, visual and hearing disturbances, out-of-body experiences, agitation, and confusion that last up to a day after drug use. During this time, users are not necessarily asleep and usually remember the event.
Harmful effects: Although the long-term effects of ketamine abuse have not been well studied, it is suggested that out-of-body experiences may recur even without additional use of the drug, and psychosis (severe mental instability) from chronic use may occur.
The substance 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA [ie, ecstasy, XTC, Adam, E, X, clarity, Stacy]) is an amphetamine derivative that has gained significant popularity in recent years and has become the recreational drug of choice for many adolescents and young adults.