Vaccinating an addict against a high may soon be possible if recent laboratory results prove to have real-life applications.
Reported by Time, the idea is to eliminate an addict's ability to catch a buzz, diminishing the appeal of drugs like cocaine, heroin and even nicotine.
"This is the first [cocaine vaccine] that will likely not require multiple, expensive infusions and that can move quickly into human trials."
The treatment works as a kind of cocaine insulation system: "Any time cocaine is snorted or used in any way, antibodies to the substance are quickly produced and the cocaine molecules are engulfed by the antibodies and prevented from reaching the brain."
Dr. Crystal (that is a real name) points out that addiction vaccines aren't a new idea.
One previous attempt, TA-CD ("therapy for addiction—cocaine addiction"), reached human trials, yielding mixed results on actual addicts.
The Washington Post reports that Dr. Thomas Kosten, the lead TA-CD researcher, admitted:
Immunization did not achieve complete abstinence from cocaine use. Previous research has shown, however, that a reduction in use is associated with a significant improvement in cocaine abusers' social functioning and thus is therapeutically meaningful.
A sizable portion of the TA-CD test group reacted to the vaccine by taking massive amounts of cocaine in the hopes of restoring their blunted highs. Test subjects complained of going broke, and still not catching a buzz.
Surveys shows that in 2008, 5.3 million Americans over the age of 12 abused cocaine. Approximately 23 million Americans suffer from addiction to illegal and prescription drugs and alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the annual cost of substance abuse, including health-care expenditures, lost earnings, and costs associated with crime and accidents, is $484 billion a year.
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