Vaccines to Treat Drug Addiction?
It’s not the first time that a lab or research facility has set out in search of a vaccine that can cure or prevent drug addiction. The latest approach is a little bit different than past attempts, however – rather than a prevention or even a cure, this vaccine would block the addictive substances from reaching and therefore affecting the brain. A patient who has been vaccinated as a part of their drug addiction treatment would experience no high or effect if they were to relapse and take their drug of choice – if it works like it’s supposed to.
So far, the drugs that have been effectively blocked by the vaccine have been nicotine and cocaine.
Do Drug Addiction Vaccines Work?
Does it really work? The jury is still out and long-term studies are ongoing, but so far, the results coming in are positive.
Some patients report that just knowing that they have taken the vaccine has helped them to avoid relapse. Knowing that the vaccine should stop them from getting high if they smoke a cigarette or do a line keeps them from wasting their time and trying.
One patient says: “You still have to mentally say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to do this,’ but it’s so much easier to say it when you know if you light a cigarette, you’re not going to get any pleasure out of it.”
How do Drug Addiction Vaccines Work?
Vaccines don’t work in the brain like other drugs that stop the effect of addictive substances at certain doses (e.g., methadone or Chantix). Instead, vaccines stop illicit drugs while they’re still in the bloodstream, and neither substance should ever reach the brain. The vaccines don’t bind to receptors in the brain or try to change perception in any way; rather, they work by making the body reject the illicit substance before it has a chance to take effect.
This is an important distinction because some of the drugs that provide similar blocking effects against addictive substances are often eschewed because of their side effects. As yet, no significant side effects have been identified among patients using the latest vaccine for drug addiction treatment.
Would You Try a Drug Addiction Vaccine?
If you had access to a drug addiction vaccine, would you take it? Do you need further research studies to prove its efficacy one way or the other? What do you think?