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How Long Does PCP Stay In One’s System?

PCP half life

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PCP often referred to as Angel Dust on the streets; people always wanted to know if PCP is a hallucinogen. Throughout the last few decades, there have been several times where a surge in emergency department visits due to the use of the drug was observed. PCP drug testing is something that is often included in a routine test that many employers tend to do. The drug in urine tends to last longer compared to other types of drug tests. Also, people should also be aware of how long the substance will remain active in their system. This post describes how a Phencyclidine screen works and what patients should realize regarding the test if they are using it.

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Table of Contents

How Long PCP Stays In System

The first question that needs to be addressed is how long the drug will show positive when undergoing a Phencyclidine drug test.

It is crucial to understand that there is a standard time for PCP in the system after the substance have been used, but the results do tend to vary between different testing methods.

Furthermore, a person should also realize that the PCP name on a drug test will show up as Phencyclidine, which is the scientific name for the substance.
Below is an overview of the duration that the substance will stay in the system, based on a PCP lab test that looks at different samples from the patient.

Blood test:

It is used to determine if a person has been using the substance is not the most common way that such testing is done. When a person experiences PCP effects on the brain that cause more severe side-effects, the individual may be taken to an emergency room. If its usage is suspected, blood tests may be used. In most cases, a blood test would have to be done within one to four hours after the substance has been used.

Urine test:

A PCP urine test is usually the most common way that is used to determine if a person has used this drug. Even when one of the PCP analogs are expected, the preferred method of testing is through a urine sample. It takes approximately four to six hours before the drug can be detected in urine. The substance will remain detectable in a person’s urine sample for a period between seven and 14 days.

Saliva test:

Saliva testing is sometimes used to assist in the detection of this substance in a person’s body, primarily because this check yields the fastest results. Within five to ten minutes, the drug is detectable in saliva. The duration, however, is shorter, as the substance is only detectable for about three days following the use of the drug.

Hair test:

It is sometimes also used. This yields the most prolonged duration but takes up to 10 days before the drug will be detectable. When hair testing is used, the substance can be detected for about 90 days after the person used.

drug testing in the laboratory

Half-Life Of PCP

Whether a person uses liquid PCP or smokes the substance, when it comes to an understanding of how long the drug will remain in that individual’s body, it is often advised to learn more about the half-life as well. While some factors may cause a varying effect in terms of how long the substance will take before the body can eliminate it, some studies have been done to determine how long the half-life is on average.

Scientists found that the average PCP half-life in most people tends to be around three days. At this time, half of the dug that a person took will be eliminated from their bodies. This does not account for every single case, however, but rather provides a general overview of the averages.

Factors Affecting PCP Detection Times

Whether looking at PCP medical use or other illicit uses, when it comes to considering how long the drug will be detectable, it is essential to find more than just the average times that are listed. There are certain factors known to affect the results of a PCP urine test, as well as other types of tests.

The main factors that tend to affect how long the drug will remain detectable include:

  • How the person uses the drug
  • The age of the individual
  • How much the person weighs

In addition to these elements, there are also certain genetic factors that may have an impact on detection times.

PCP On A Standard Pre-Employment Drug Test

Whether a person experiments with the drug to see what PCP feels like or they have been taking the substance for a while, it is crucial to know whether a standard pre-employment drug test will look for this particular compound.

PCP in urine is very likely to be detected if a person has used the substance within the past seven to fourteen days before the check.

urine drug test

PCP False Positive Drug Screen

A false positive for PCP is possible in some cases and has been recorded multiple times in the past. This raises the question: what is PCP made of? It is essential to look at its components as there seem to be some substances that may trigger a false positive when tested individually for this particular drug.

The 2013 study on false-positive urine screens found that a PCP false positive drug test is most likely due to the use of:

  • Tramadol
  • Clonazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Carvedilol
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Diphenhydramine

PCP Drug Test

Many people are looking for ways to get it out of their system faster.

While some reports claim that there are detox drinks that help, these usually do not provide effective results.

Stopping the use of the drug is the only way to get the substance out of a person’s body.

If a person is having trouble stopping the use of the substance, considering PCP addiction treatment is definitely an option they should consider. There are many substance abuse treatment centers that have trained professionals able to cope with the problematic use. However, the acknowledglement of the problem is the most important step in successfull addiction treatment process.

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  1. Donna M. Bush. Emergency Department Visits Involving Phencyclidine (PCP). The CBHSQ Report.
  2. Arvind Rengarajan, Michael E. Mullins. How Often Do False-positive Phencyclidine (PCP) Urine Screens Occur with Use of Common Medications? Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2013 Jul; 51(6): 493–496.

About Author

Peter J. Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.


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