Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is the symptoms that occurred during a previous episode of hallucinogen use.


What Is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder?

Unlocking the Enigma of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is a perplexing and often poorly understood condition that can profoundly affect individuals experimenting with hallucinogenic substances. In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of HPPD by delving into its symptoms, exploring its complex underlying causes, and shedding light on the latest developments in treatment options. HPPD remains a challenging puzzle within mental health. Still, by understanding its intricacies, we can pave the way for improved recognition, support, and therapeutic interventions for those grappling with this enigmatic disorder.

Hallucinogen Use Disorder

Hallucinogen Use Disorder is a specific substance use disorder characterized by the excessive and problematic use of hallucinogenic substances, often leading to negative consequences in a person’s life. Hallucinogens are a class of psychoactive substances that can profoundly alter perception, thoughts, and feelings, leading to hallucinations, distorted reality, and changes in sensory perception.

Types of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder:

Hallucinogens include a variety of substances such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin mushrooms, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), mescaline, and others. These substances can be synthetic or naturally occurring.

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we understand the challenges individuals with HPPD face, and that's why our specialized treatment programs are designed with your unique needs in mind.
At We Level Up Treatment Center, we understand the challenges individuals with HPPD face, and that’s why our specialized treatment programs are designed with your unique needs in mind.

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Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder Fact Sheet

Definition: Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by the recurrent and distressing re-experiencing of perceptual disturbances or hallucinogenic-like symptoms that initially occurred during a previous episode of hallucinogen use.

Key Symptoms:

  1. Visual Disturbances: Persistent visual symptoms, such as trails behind moving objects, visual snow (static-like vision), and perception of geometric shapes or patterns.
  2. Color Distortions: Altered color perception, vivid colors, or chromatopsia.
  3. Size and Perspective Changes: Perceived changes in the size of objects (micropsia or macropsia).
  4. Depersonalization and Derealization: Feelings of detachment from oneself (depersonalization) and a sense of unreality in the external world (derealization).

Causes: HPPD is primarily associated with hallucinogenic substances, including LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and others. It can occur after a single use but is more common in frequent users. The exact causes of HPPD are still not fully understood but are thought to involve alterations in brain function related to sensory perception.

Diagnosis: Diagnosing HPPD involves a thorough psychiatric evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional. It is crucial to rule out other potential causes of similar symptoms and assess their impact on an individual’s daily life.

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder HPPD Statistics

HPPD is a rare and poorly understood condition, making it challenging to gather precise statistics. However, available data provides insight into the prevalence, demographic factors, and other aspects of HPPD. Here is an introduction and some examples of statistics related to HPPD:

  • Prevalence: HPPD is considered rare, with prevalence estimates varying widely. According to some studies, it affects approximately 4.2% of individuals who use hallucinogenic substances, while others suggest a much lower prevalence. These discrepancies highlight the need for more extensive research.
  • Gender Distribution: Research indicates that HPPD may affect males and females equally, although some studies suggest a slightly higher prevalence in males.
  • Age of Onset: HPPD can occur at any age, but it often emerges during a person’s late teens or early twenties, coinciding with increased experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs.
  • Duration of Symptoms: The duration of HPPD symptoms can vary significantly. Some individuals experience symptoms for a few weeks, while others report persisting symptoms for several years or even decades.

6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% receive treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

Nineteen million adults experience specific phobias, making it America’s most common anxiety disorder.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Diagnosing Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder HPPD

  • Clinical Evaluation: Conduct a thorough interview with a mental health professional.
  • Symptom Assessment: Evaluate specific perceptual disturbances.
  • Onset and Duration: Determine when symptoms started and their duration.
  • Substance Use History: Gather information on hallucinogen use.
  • Rule Out Other Conditions: Exclude medical or psychiatric causes.
  • Impact on Daily Life: Assess the effects on functioning.
  • Diagnostic Criteria: Use DSM-5 criteria for substance-related disorders.
  • Differential Diagnosis: Differentiate from similar conditions.
  • Collaboration: Involve specialists if necessary.
  • Documentation: Maintain accurate records for diagnosis and treatment.
The most effective way to prevent HPPD is to avoid the use of hallucinogenic substances. Education, harm reduction strategies, and responsible drug use practices can help reduce the risk.
The most effective way to prevent HPPD is to avoid hallucinogenic substances. Education, harm reduction strategies, and responsible drug use practices can help reduce the risk.
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Symptoms of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder HPPD

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) symptoms can vary in type and intensity among individuals. Still, they typically involve the recurrent and distressing re-experience of perceptual disturbances or hallucinogenic-like symptoms that initially occurred during a previous episode of hallucinogen use. Here are some common symptoms associated with HPPD:

  • Visual Disturbances: Visual symptoms are the most common and prominent in HPPD. These may include:
  • Visual Trails: Seeing lingering trails or afterimages behind moving objects.
  • Visual Snow: Perceiving what looks like “static” or visual noise superimposed on the visual field.
  • Geometric Shapes and Patterns: Hallucinating geometric shapes, patterns, or fractals.
  • Color Distortions: Experiencing altered color perception, with colors appearing more vivid or different than usual.
  • Size and Perspective Changes: Perceiving objects as larger (macropsia) or smaller (micropsia) than they are.
  • Depersonalization and Derealization:
  • Depersonalization: Feeling detached from one’s body, thoughts, or emotions, as if observing oneself outside.
  • Derealization: A sense that the external world is unreal, distorted, or dreamlike.
  • Auditory and Tactile Sensations:
  • While less common, some individuals with HPPD may experience auditory or tactile disturbances, such as hearing sounds or feeling sensations that are not present.
  • Anxiety and Distress:
  • The symptoms of HPPD can be distressing, leading to heightened anxiety and emotional turmoil.
  • Impairment in Daily Life:
  • In severe cases, HPPD symptoms can interfere with various aspects of daily functioning, including work, relationships, and overall quality of life.

It’s important to note that the specific types and severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals with HPPD. Additionally, these symptoms may persist for varying durations, ranging from weeks to months or even years after using hallucinogenic substances. Seeking professional help for a proper evaluation and to develop a management plan is crucial for individuals experiencing HPPD symptoms.

Hallucinogen-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Hallucinogen-Induced Psychotic Disorder (HIPD) is a specific category of substance-induced psychotic disorders. It occurs due to the use or withdrawal of hallucinogenic substances, leading to symptoms of psychosis. Hallucinogenic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or other similar drugs, are known for their ability to produce profound alterations in perception, thoughts, and feelings. In some cases, they can lead to psychotic symptoms.

  • Psychotic Symptoms: It is characterized by psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and abnormal behavior.
  • Substance-Related: HIPD occurs in the context of recent hallucinogenic substance use or during withdrawal from these substances.
  • Duration: Symptoms are typically transient, lasting hours to a few days, and usually resolve once the substance’s effects wear off.
  • Disorientation: Individuals may experience extreme disorientation, confusion, and perceptual disturbances.
  • No Previous Psychosis: Typically occurs in individuals with no history of primary psychotic disorders.
  • Differential Diagnosis: Healthcare professionals must rule out other potential causes of psychosis.
  • Treatment: Management involves providing a safe and supportive environment, and symptoms often resolve without specific antipsychotic medications.
  • Prevention: The best prevention is to avoid hallucinogenic substances or use them responsibly under professional guidance.

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Causes of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder HPPD

We encourage you to explore our comprehensive range of therapies and support services to find the most effective way to manage your HPPD symptoms and achieve lasting recovery.
We encourage you to explore our comprehensive range of therapies and support services to find the most effective way to manage your HPPD symptoms and achieve lasting recovery.
  • Hallucinogenic Substance Use: Primary trigger for HPPD.
  • Individual Vulnerability: Genetic predisposition and psychological factors may play a role.
  • Dose and Frequency: Higher doses and more frequent use increase the risk.
  • Sensory Overload: Hallucinogens disrupt sensory perception and processing.
  • Neurobiological Mechanisms: Alterations in brain pathways and neurotransmitter systems.
  • Psychological Factors: Intense or traumatic hallucinogenic experiences may contribute.
  • Stress and Anxiety: High-stress levels can exacerbate or trigger symptoms.
  • Polydrug Use: Combining hallucinogens with other substances can increase risk.

Other Hallucinogen Use Disorders

Hallucinogen Use Disorder is a specific category of substance use disorder primarily associated with the use of hallucinogenic substances. However, there are several other substance use disorders related to different types of substances. Here are some examples:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): This disorder involves the problematic and excessive use of alcohol, leading to physical and psychological dependence, impaired control over drinking, and adverse consequences in various areas of life.
  • Opioid Use Disorder: Opioid Use Disorder is characterized by the misuse of opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers and illicit substances like heroin. It involves a range of symptoms, such as cravings, tolerance, withdrawal, and loss of control over opioid use.
  • Stimulant Use Disorder: This disorder encompasses the misuse of stimulant drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, or methamphetamine. Symptoms include increased use, cravings, neglect of responsibilities, and health problems associated with stimulant use.
  • Cannabis Use Disorder: Cannabis Use Disorder involves problematic and compulsive use of marijuana or cannabis products, leading to negative effects on daily life, relationships, and functioning.
  • Tobacco Use Disorder: This disorder pertains to the misuse of tobacco products, particularly cigarettes. It includes symptoms such as nicotine dependence, unsuccessful attempts to quit, and continued use despite health-related issues.
  • Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Use Disorder: This disorder involves the misuse of sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic drugs, such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates, leading to dependence and negative consequences.
  • Cocaine Use Disorder: Cocaine Use Disorder is specific to the misuse of cocaine, a powerful stimulant drug. It involves compulsive use, cravings, and a range of negative consequences associated with cocaine use.
  • Inhalant Use Disorder: This disorder encompasses the misuse of inhalants, which are volatile substances that produce psychoactive effects when inhaled. Inhalant Use Disorder can lead to physical and cognitive impairments.
  • Caffeine Use Disorder: While caffeine is not typically classified as a controlled substance, excessive caffeine consumption can lead to a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including caffeine dependence.
  • Hallucinogen Use Disorder: As mentioned earlier, this disorder involves the problematic use of hallucinogenic substances like LSD, psilocybin, and others. Symptoms include increased use, cravings, and impairment in daily functioning.

These are just a few examples of substance use disorders related to various types of substances. Each disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria and treatment approaches, but they all share the common characteristic of compulsive and harmful substance use that interferes with an individual’s well-being and daily life.

Persisting Hallucinogen Disorder


“Persisting Hallucinogen Disorder” is not a recognized or commonly used term within the field of psychiatry or psychology. It does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the primary reference for mental health professionals when diagnosing and classifying mental disorders.

The more appropriate term for the condition is “Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder” (HPPD). HPPD is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by the recurrent and distressing re-experience of perceptual disturbances or hallucinogenic-like symptoms that initially occurred during a previous episode of hallucinogen use. Symptoms of HPPD can include visual disturbances, changes in color perception, size distortions, depersonalization, and derealization.

Suppose you have further questions or need information about HPPD or other mental health conditions. In that case, consulting with a qualified mental health professional who can provide accurate guidance and diagnosis based on their expertise and the most up-to-date clinical standards is advisable.

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Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder Treatment at We Level Up Treatment Center

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is a challenging condition. While no specific medication is approved for its treatment, several therapeutic approaches and strategies can be employed to help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Treatment for HPPD typically focuses on symptom management and addressing any associated distress or impairment. Here are the critical components of HPPD treatment:

  • Psychoeducation: Inform individuals about HPPD and its causes.
  • Counseling and Therapy: Offer cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.
  • Medication Management: Consider anxiolytics or antipsychotics in severe cases.
  • Supportive Care: Provide emotional support and non-judgmental environments.
  • Stress Reduction: Encourage stress management techniques like mindfulness and relaxation.
  • Avoidance of Triggers: Advise avoiding hallucinogens and other potential triggers.
  • Long-Term Monitoring: Regular follow-up to assess symptom progression and treatment effectiveness.
  • Research Participation: Some may opt for clinical trials to explore treatments further.
The primary trigger for HPPD is the use of hallucinogenic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and others. Individual vulnerability, dose, and frequency of use also play a role.
The primary trigger for HPPD is using hallucinogenic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and others. Individual vulnerability, dose, and frequency of use also play a role.

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  1. What is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)?

    HPPD is a psychiatric disorder characterized by the recurrent and distressing re-experience of perceptual disturbances or hallucinogenic-like symptoms that originally occurred during a previous episode of hallucinogen use.

  2. What causes HPPD?

    The primary trigger for HPPD is using hallucinogenic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and others. Individual vulnerability, dose, and frequency of use also play a role.

  3. How long do HPPD symptoms last?

    The duration of HPPD symptoms varies among individuals. They may last for weeks, months, or even years after using hallucinogenic substances. In some cases, symptoms may be persistent.

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