"Angel dust", "killer weed" and "elephant tranquillizer" are some of the street names given to phencyclidine (PCP), described as one of the most dangerous drugs available today. Introduced initially as a general dissociative anaesthetic, it has unpredictable and dangerous side-effects.
Although phencyclidine abuse is not associated with the development of physical dependence, it does give rise to a marked psychological dependence. A single dose, usually smoked with tobacco or other materials, can provoke a serious toxic psychosis, schizophrenic in character and accompanied by delusions, mental confusion and violent aggressive or self-destructive behaviour. Total personality changes are not uncommon, and flashback episodes occur frequently. Even total catatonic reactions are common. The unpredictability of its effects and its frequent adulteration with other hallucinogens add to the already considerable risk that is taken by anyone who tries the drug.
According to the 1996 US National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), 3.2 percent of the population aged 12 and older have used PCP at least once. Lifetime use of PCP was higher among those aged 26 through 34 (4.2 percent) than for those 18 through 25 (2.3 percent) and those 12 through 17 (1.2 percent).