Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

What is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder?

Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a disorder characterized by a continual presence of sensory disturbances, most commonly visual, that are reminiscent of those generated by the use of hallucinogenic substances. Previous use of hallucinogens by the person is necessary, but not sufficient, for diagnosis of HPPD. For an individual to be diagnosed with HPPD, the symptoms cannot be due to another medical condition.

Is HPPD the Same Thing as Acid Flashbacks?

HPPD may be confused with acid flashbacks. However, HPPD is distinct from acid flashbacks by reason of its relative permanence; while acid flashbacks are brief and fleeting, HPPD is persistent. HPPD is an actual medically recognized mental condition and appears in the DSM-IV (diagnostic code 292.89).

Causes of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

The cause(s) of HPPD are not yet known. The most current neurological research indicates that HPPD symptoms may manifest from abnormalities in Central Nervous System function, following hallucinogen use. One theory derived from this research is that the brain inhibitory mechanisms involved with sensory gating, or filtering out excess visual and auditory stimuli, are disrupted therefore allowing more information to be perceived at one time. This results in an overload of the senses.

What HPPD Looks Like

In some cases, HPPD appears to have a sudden onset after a single drug experience, strongly suggesting the drug played a direct role in triggering symptoms. But in other cases, people report gradual worsening of symptoms with ongoing drug use. Drugs that have been associated with HPPD include LSD, MDA, MDMA, psilocybin, mescaline, diphenhydramine, PCP, synthetic cannabis, and high doses of dextromethorphan.

How many people are affected by HPPD?

Some put the number at about 1 in 50,000 hallucinogen users develop HPPD. However, it is possible the prevalence of HPPD has been underestimated by authorities because many people with visual problems relating to drug use either do not seek treatment or, when they do seek treatment, do not admit to having used illicit drugs. Thus, it may be that HPPD occurs more often than is detected by the health care system.

Quick Facts About Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder:

  • People can develop HPPD after only 1 use of a hallucinogenic substance
  • HPPD is most typically caused by the use of LSD
  • About 59% of people with HPPD see geometric patterns on blank surfaces like walls. Almost as many, see false movements of still objects, usually in the peripheral visual fields. Others reports flashes of light, trailing images behind moving objects, and intensified colors
  • Most people with HPPD recover within a month or two after last use, a few take as long as a year


Natural Treatments for Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder :

  • Abstinence from using hallucinogens, until the effects from HPPD are gone
  • Valerian Root may help alleviate symptoms. It can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores and health food stores
  • Sun glasses may help alleviate symptoms. Most people with HPPD describe symptom onset or increased intensity of symptoms when they are in bright light and especially when changing from a dark environment to a bright one
  • Meditation, yoga, exercise, breathing techniques and talking about the experience (narrative therapy) with supportive and knowledgeable people may also be helpful












Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is a type of therapy that was developed by Michael White and David Epston. It focuses on narrative. Therapists ask questions to produce vivid descriptions of life events. The primary focus of narrative therapy is people’s expressions of their experiences. This process allows people to give meaning to the things that happen in their lives. It gives them framework to consider their relationship with their problems. Narrative therapy has been used to treat previously unmanageable cases of anorexia nervosa, ADHD, schizophrenia, and many other problems.

Narrative Therapy: Concepts

The main concept behind narrative therapy is that are identities are shaped by our stories; the way we conceptualize the things that happen to us. When we describe a problem, we also let the therapist know what influences our problems and our ideas. Also, putting a problem into a story distances us from the problem. A common refrain in narrative therapy is “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” Distance from a problem can make it easier to solve.

Narrative Therapy: Method

In narrative therapy, a person’s beliefs, skills, and knowledge help them overcome their problems. The therapist acts like an investigative reporter; gathering information from the client and then presenting them logically. This process helps the person undergoing narrative therapy to externalize their problems and evaluate them. Generally, the stories that have the most problems, which are “problem-saturated”, tend to dominate in early narrative therapy. These dominant stories tend to shape a person’s identity, according to proponents of narrative therapy.

This process can also help identify exceptions to the problem’s influence. Even though the problem that may be very severe, there are still parts of the person which haven’t been destroyed by it. Through this process, narrative therapy can uncover a person’s resilient belief systems and lead to a change.

Sometimes in narrative therapy, the therapist will use an outsider witness. These are people who are friends of the client or old clients who have experience with the same problem. They generally have some knowledge of the problem at hand. These people are called in to sit and listen in on a session. Afterwards, the therapist will ask them what stood out to them in what they just heard. Often having an outsider in the room can be very beneficial. These witnesses can relate their own experience or point out a part of the narrative that may have gone unnoticed.

Narrative Therapy: Criticism

Some criticisms of narrative therapy include that it seems to align with the theory that there are no absolute truths. Critics think that this type of thinking can lead to moral relativism. Also, practitioners of narrative therapy have been very critical of other types of therapy, and put themselves above practitioners of other types of therapy.

Narrative therapy is also criticized for the lack of proof for many of its claimed benefits. Critics say that there is no empirical evidence that proves that narrative therapy is actually effective, and more studies need to be done.