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












Substance Induced Psychotic Disorder

Substance Induced Psychotic Disorder

Substance-induced psychotic disorder

Substance-induced psychotic disorder is basically psychosis brought on by the abuse of drugs and alcohol. It usually features hallucinations or delusions that are judged to be due to the direct effects of a substance.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: Causes

Many drugs of abuse can cause substance-induced psychotic disorder. These include alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids and sedative hypnotics like benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Many prescription medications and over the counter medications can cause it too. These include anesthetics, analgesics, anticholinergic agents, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, cardiovascular medications, antimicrobial medications, antiparkinsonian medications, chemotherapeutic agents, corticosteroids, gastrointestinal medications, muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and anti-depressants.

Not all cases of substance-induced psychotic disorder occur as a result of substance abuse. Sometimes people (especially small children) ingest toxic substances by accident. Other times, people are exposed to toxins and don’t even know it (such as when someone gets food poisoning at a restaurant). Alternatively, people may take too much of a legitimately prescribed medication, medicines may interact in unforeseen ways, or doctors may miscalculate the effects of medicines they prescribed.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: Criteria

For a person to be diagnosed with substance-induced psychotic disorder, they have to exhibit certain criteria. The first criterion is that the psychotic disorder features prominent hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, or catatonia. Secondly, the psychotic symptoms must be due to the direct effect of a substance. This can be a drug of abuse or a toxin. Hallucinations that the person realizes are brought on by the substance are not included, because these are diagnosed as substance intoxication or withdrawal. The third criterion is that the disturbance is not better accounted for by a different psychotic disorder. The fourth criterion is that the symptoms do not only occur during the course of a delirium. Only when the symptoms exceed normal intoxication or withdrawal is the individual deemed to have substance-abuse psychotic disorder.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: Difficulty

Sometimes it is very difficult to diagnose substance-induced psychotic disorder. If a person has a psychotic episode while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can be difficult to determine if the symptoms go above and beyond the normal signs of intoxication. Similarly, when a person is withdrawal, they may suffer psychotic symptoms that are due to the withdrawal process and aren’t substance-induced psychotic disorder.

Further complicating the matter is that many drugs exacerbate or trigger an underlying mental condition. It can be difficult to determine whether the symptoms of psychosis are due to substance-induced psychotic disorder or whether the drugs and alcohol just set off a mental disorder that was already present.

The strongest predictors of substance-induced psychotic disorder are a family history of psychosis, trauma history and current cannabis dependence. These traits can sometimes help doctors differentiate between primary psychosis and substance-induced psychotic disorder.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: Treatment

Treatment involves relieving the intoxicated condition under medical observation to control withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes treatment means medical management of a continuing withdrawal process. If these treatments are not successful, then usually the diagnoses changes to primary psychosis.