Everyone knows that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially when hallucinogens are involved. Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder can lead to a trip that never ends.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is a condition that can leave drug users experiencing hallucinations for the rest of their lives. In other words, it’s the trip that never ends. It can cause disturbing visual effects, like halos around objects, afterimages, and seeing things in your peripheral vision that aren’t actually there.
The condition is normally associated with acid use, but it’s also been linked to the use of other substances, such as MDMA and amphetamines.
Sure, it’s not life-threatening, but it affects day-to-day life, so much that sufferers can end up with mental health issues. In fact, researchers believe that people with HPPD have a 50 percent risk of developing depression.
A long time stimulant
One such sufferer is Alex Miller, who was still in high school he bought a bottle of over-the-counter cough medicine to get high. Speaking to VICE, it was revealed that the 21-year-old had also taken Adderall, prescription medication for ADHD earlier that day, which he often took due to an amphetamine addiction at the time.
So I had taken a stimulant in the morning and then took a dissociative later. This was a foolish combination. The next day, I woke up and I had slight trails in my vision. It was barely noticeable, but I instantly knew something was wrong because that side effect should have gone away by then.
For the next few weeks, his vision was affected, with tiny streaks of lights following objects as they moved. Early on, it didn’t bother him too much, as it was quite mild. But as time went on, Miller became increasingly more concerned that the trails just weren’t going away. Four years on, the visual disturbances have gotten worse and more pronounced.
Am I going to be blind when I’m 30? Am I not going to be able to walk down a busy street? Will I still be able to drive? That’s what goes through my mind.
Currently, there is no cure for Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. For sufferers, the symptoms can be managed through a combination of medication and therapy. For some, the disorder can last for months or years, for other, it’s an entire lifetime.
One British study examined the case of one man who had suffered from HPPD for over 25 years. “There is no real great treatment for it,” said Dr. Henry Abraham, a psychiatry lecturer at Tufts University. Dr. Abraham is one of the few scientists in the world researching HPPD.
We’ve tried all kinds of things, we’ve published papers, but there is no cure for HPPD other than Mother Nature.
That’s why many sufferers never seek proper treatment for the disorder. That’s the same for Alex Miller, who self-medicated, “trying to distract myself from the problem,” he said.
I was using stimulants to do that. Everyone will say the best option for you is abstinence from drugs, but that can be a lot for some people.
Road to recovery
Miller is in a recovery programme for his drug addiction, while still taking quetiapine, an antipsychotic, which manage his symptoms. Previously, he had taken benzodiazepine – the psychoactive drug that is often given to HPPD sufferers – which helped. But it carries its own set of risks. Dr. Abraham says,
Benzos can be used safely as long as the person isn’t at risk of becoming dependent – it’s the first line of defence, but not a cure.
In the aforementioned article, Dr. Abraham emphasised that anyone with HPPD should avoid recreational substances – especially cannabis.