How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

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Abstract digital representation of a brain with highlighted neurons and a symbolic clock, indicating the neurological impact and duration of PCP in the human body, in shades of blue, purple, and white.

Unraveling the Facts: How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

Phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP, has intrigued and concerned both medical professionals and the general public for decades. Originally developed as a surgical anesthetic in the 1950s, PCP’s intense and unpredictable psychoactive effects quickly overshadowed its medical uses. Today, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, indicating a high potential for abuse and severe psychological or physical dependence. Understanding how long PCP remains in the human body is crucial, not only for medical professionals and drug enforcement agencies but also for individuals concerned about their health and well-being. This article aims to explore various aspects of PCP, including its solubility, effects, and detection in drug tests, as well as addressing common questions such as “Is PCP a horse tranquilizer?” and “How long does a PCP trip last?”. By providing scientifically-backed, authoritative information, we strive to shed light on this often misunderstood substance.

What is PCP?

Phencyclidine (PCP), initially synthesized in the 1950s for its anesthetic properties, quickly became notorious for its powerful hallucinogenic effects. Contrary to popular belief, PCP was never approved for use as a horse tranquilizer; this misconception likely stems from its veterinary use in large animals in the past. PCP operates by disrupting the function of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly those related to perception and cognition. Its use can induce a state of detachment from reality, often described as dissociation, and can result in hallucinations, euphoria, and sometimes aggressive behavior. Over the years, PCP has been replaced in medical settings due to its severe side effects, but it remains a substance of abuse, known on the streets as “Angel Dust,” among other names.

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

The duration that PCP stays in the human body varies depending on several factors, including the amount used, the frequency of use, the user’s metabolism, and overall health. Typically, PCP can be detected in urine for up to a week in occasional users, but in chronic users, it can be detected for as long as a month. PCP is lipophilic, meaning it is fat-soluble, which allows it to be stored in the body’s fat tissues and consequently prolong its presence in the system. The elimination of PCP is also influenced by its metabolic process. It is primarily metabolized in the liver, and its metabolites are excreted through urine. The variability in liver function and urinary excretion rates among individuals further contributes to the differences in how long PCP can be detected in the system.

PCP’s Solubility and Metabolism:

A key characteristic of PCP is its fat solubility. Being lipophilic, PCP tends to accumulate in fatty tissues within the body. This accumulation can lead to a prolonged presence in the system, as the drug is slowly released into the bloodstream over time. The metabolism of PCP primarily occurs in the liver, where it is converted into various metabolites. These metabolites are then excreted through the kidneys. However, due to its fat solubility, complete elimination can be a slow process, especially in individuals with higher body fat percentages.

Effects and Duration of a PCP Trip:

A typical PCP trip can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the dose and individual factors. Users often experience a range of effects, including hallucinations, feelings of detachment from reality, euphoria, and sometimes anxiety or paranoia. Physically, PCP can cause numbness, slurred speech, and loss of coordination. High doses may lead to more severe effects like delusions, aggressive behavior, and psychosis. The psychological impact of PCP can be profound and lasting, especially in frequent users.

Comparison with Other Inhalants:

When compared to other inhalants, PCP stands out for its potent effects and longer duration in the system. While most inhalants produce short-lived highs and are quickly metabolized, PCP’s fat solubility contributes to its longer-lasting presence and effects. This distinction is important both for users considering the risks and for medical professionals treating cases of substance abuse.

PCP in Drug Tests:

PCP is detectable in standard drug tests, often listed as a specific substance due to its unique chemical structure and effects. In urine tests, PCP can typically be detected for 1-7 days in occasional users, but this window can extend up to a month in chronic users. Blood tests have a shorter detection window. The detection of PCP in these tests is crucial for both legal and medical purposes, as it informs the necessary responses in cases of drug abuse or accidental ingestion.


Understanding how long PCP stays in your system is essential for grasping both its immediate and long-term impacts. Its prolonged presence, due to factors like fat solubility and individual metabolism, underscores the risks associated with its use. Awareness of these aspects is crucial, not only for potential users but also for healthcare providers and law enforcement. Recognizing the seriousness of PCP abuse and the complexities of its effects is vital for effective health interventions and legal policies.