Neuropsychological Aftereffects Of Pcp Abuse

It is not known for certain whether or not PCP causes brain damage or long-term neurological or behavioral impairment in chronic abusers. Although some PCP abusers develop neurobehavioral impairment, controlled experiments of the type that would need to be carried out to show that PCP alone was the cause of the problems have not been done. PCP abusers typically abuse many other drugs in addition to PCP, which may contribute to their problems, and they may have lifestyles and health habits that lead to neuropsychological dysfunction. For example, while under the influence of PCP, they may be involved in an accident resulting in brain injury, so the risk factors that accompany PCP abuse may be responsible for the clinical problems sometimes seen in abusers. It should be pointed out that PCP was used in humans for medical research for a number of years, and ketamine— a close analog of PCP—is, even in the early 1990s, given to thousands of patients. No legacy of neuropsychological impairment is seen in these individuals.

Does this mean that chronic PCP abuse does not cause neuropsychological impairment? Certainly,

PCP—like all drugs—must be considered as a possible source of neural damage. In animal testing, it was found that even a single injection of a fairly high dose of PCP produced reversible pa-thomorphological changes in neurons of the cingu-late and retrosplenial cortex in the brains of rats (Olney, Labruyere, & Price, 1989). Although it is not known if PCP produces these effects in humans, it is possible that it does and that this could lead to adverse health effects. Another possibly important basis for concern comes from studies which show that PCP, and related drugs, impair learning and memory in various animal models. PCP's ability to do this may be greater than for other classes of drugs of abuse, possibly due to PCP's ability to interfere with specific brain mechanisms for learning that involve N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) Receptors.

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