Phencyclidine was developed in the 1950s for use as an anesthetic, but its use was discontinued because patients developed delusions, severe anxiety, or frank psychosis after their operation. It was also used by veterinarians as an anesthetic for some years; at present, however, all PCP sold on the street is manufactured illegally. The initials "PCP" are derived from a nickname, ''The Peace Pill." The history of PCP as a drug of abuse began in the United States in the mid-1960s, when it was primarily taken by ingestion; but the real epidemic of PCP abuse occurred in the 1970s, when smoking and insufflation ("snorting") became the more common forms of use (Burns & Lerner, 1976). Because it is not difficult for an experienced chemist to synthesize the drug, PCP and its abuse spread rapidly, peaking about 1978. After 1980, its prevalence declined—however, PCP abuse continues to occur precisely because the drug is relatively easy to make. National Institute on Drug Abuse surveys show that more Americans have experimented with PCP than with heroin, and the prevalence of recent use of PCP is about the same as with heroin, so it remains a significant public-health problem (Na tional Institute on Drug Abuse, 1991). As of 1999, most PCP abusers either inject the drug or smoke it by sprinkling it on smoking material (mint leaves, parsley, marijuana, or tobacco).

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