Permanent Acid Trip: Real or Fake?

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Bill Walton woke up one Christmas Day to a surprise: a permanent acid trip of a psychedelic lifetime.

During his time playing for the San Diego Clippers, Walton decided it would be a great idea to take nine hits of “Orange Sunshine” acid at a party thrown by former Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse.

This decision would throw Walton into a 23-year acid trip from 1981 to 2004, followed by a comedown that lasted for several years.

For the remainder of his time with the Clippers, Walton would live in a “permanent acid trip,” which was not helped by the lack of success for the team. And while Walton managed to continue his career as a player for the Boston Celtics and a sports analyst for college basketball, this phenomenon has—unsurprisingly—affected Walton’s mental state.

Walton’s Odd Behavior Did Not Go Unnoticed

In February 2015, Walton made headlines when he eccentrically ranted on and on about Bob Dylan, an influential American singer-songwriter, in one clip of sports commentary during an Oregon vs. USC basketball game. He also compared a Washington-UCLA basketball game to a bear smashing a husky via his sports commentary.

When his teammates and coworkers found out about his acid trip, they said it made a lot of sense.

According to The Brushback, former Celtic player Kevin McHale stated that Walton’s permanent acid trip “explains a lot, actually,” and that “[Walton] would close his eyes and twirl in circles—you know, that hippie dance.”

Walton’s wacky and haunting experience away from reality for more than two decades is alarming. How could a permanent acid trip be possible? And what is the likelihood that someone would accidentally embark on a trip that lasts days, months, or even years?

An Acid Trip That Does Not End

Bill Walton is not the only person who has experienced a permanent acid trip. According to an article in The New Yorker, a college freshman ate half of a microdot of LSD at aparty, experiencing a mild trip followed by persistent aberrations the next day.

“I really lost it,” the anonymous college freshman told the publication. “I was sitting in one of my first college classes and, like, hallucinating.”

The psychologists he met with could not discern much, and, of course, his parents discerned less.

“I broke down,” said the student. “I could no longer go to class. I couldn’t do anything.”

This student quit school, moved back home, and went into treatment. He searched for a diagnosis and nothing came up, which was followed by weeks, months, and then years of this trip not coming to an end.

And sadly, the fact that this student couldn’t find information on his condition isn’t shocking. Permanent acid trips are still being researched for answers as to what causes them and who are more likely to experience them.

What Is a Permanent Acid Trip?

Known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), a permanent acid trip is considered more dysphoric than euphoric. This disorder occurs when a person has taken recreational hallucinogenic drugs (e.g., lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, magic mushrooms, etc.), usually more times than once. It may be irreversible, or it may continue for months or years at a time.

Even though the cause of this disorder is still unclear, the DSM-V states that drug intake is generally the main cause. Other varying factors are the duration and the persistence of the disorder, as well as the extent of the unreal aberrations (e.g., auditory, visual, olfactory). One person may experience subtle trails of color in their peripheral vision while others may experience more intense symptoms, which are not the same as vivid hallucinations.

Symptoms of a permanent acid trip are:

  • Dissociation
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Mood disturbances
  • A sensation that something in the peripheral vision is moving
  • Trailing phenomena leaving trails and after-images (e.g., palinopsia and akinetopsia)
  • Flashes of color around low lighting
  • Macropsia and micropsia (objects appearing larger and smaller than they actually are)
  • Halos surrounding objects

Dissociative symptoms can be divided into two categories: depersonalization, the feeling of not being connected to one’s body; and derealization, the feeling that one is disconnected from reality. Some common statements from individuals experiencing dissociative symptoms are feelings of strangeness and a feeling of “floating away.”

This can cause distress, social and/or occupational impairment, but the symptoms should not be linked to dementia, delirium, or schizophrenia for it to be a legitimate diagnosis. However, there are permanent acid trip cases out there where the individual previously had either a mild or an extreme case of another mental illness, which may make HPPD more persistent in individuals that are genetically predisposed to other disorders.

Is Your Trip Never-Ending? Get Treatment Now

If you, or a loved one, has had a permanent acid trip for days, weeks, months, or years at a time, extensive treatment at a rehabilitation facility equipped with 24-7 medical professionals and therapy may help better your condition. Dissociation can be extremely difficult to manage while trying to function at work, home, school, or in society in general. We understand your pain. For help, reach out to one of our treatment representatives now.

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Staff Writer

Ocean Breeze Recovery employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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