What is PCP?

PCP is a synthetic drug that was originally manufactured in the 1950s as a veterinary anaesthetic and painkiller. It became widely used in America in the 1970s as an illegal street drug. PCP is still used in America but is only very rarely found in the UK.

It comes in liquid, crystal, pill or powder form and can be smoked in a cigarette, snorted, swallowed or injected. PCP oil is yellow in colour. Powdered PCP varies in colour from white to brown.

The law

PCP is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act as a Class A drug.

Maximum penalties for supplying are life imprisonment and/or a fine.

Maximum penalties for possession are 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine.


PCP is an anaesthetic with hallucinatory properties. It is regarded as a powerful drug, the use of which can lead to euphoria, dreamlike states and distortion of the senses, mood and time. PCP may also produce disturbing effects such as depression, panic attacks, paranoia and aggression. The drug increases body temperature and deaths have been recorded from heart and lung failure.

As with any hallucinogenic drug, people who are already depressed or anxious are more likely to experience negative effects.

Combining PCP with depressant drugs like alcohol is particularly dangerous. Alcohol increases the likelihood of accidents and depresses breathing rate further.