Every year in the United States, more people die from drug overdoses than are killed in vehicle accidents.
But if it was possible to find a cure that was as simple as a shot, such as the one you get for chickenpox or measles?
It’s something that experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse are working on, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
According to experts, while any such treatment approach may still be years away from being safe for testing on people, the potential is exciting.
“Essentially, we’re using our own immune system,” says the author “Dr. Vicky Buckles, an addiction and substance misuse expert at the University of South Florida, shared her thoughts on the subject.
However, unlike other vaccinations, which are meant to train the body to combat an invading organism, this one would educate the body to react to the drug before it reaches the brain and creates a high, according to Buckles, who added that this would be different from previous vaccines.
“When a drug enters the body, our bodies do not respond until the material reaches the brain,” says the author,” she said. We would have anti-bodies that would respond as soon as a chemical was introduced into the body, eliminating the need to travel through the brain.
The fact that medication molecules are even smaller than viruses, which are already microscopically tiny, means that a vaccine would have to make them larger in order for the immune system to recognize them. Buckles described the medication as if it were Pac-Man, eating it up before it could have any effect.
“It is no longer available to the brain at that point.
Treatment with various medicines would need the use of different vaccination strains. Although it has been promoted as a preventive therapy for addiction, experts have expressed concern that it should not be considered as such.
For Max Kotler, a 23-year-old recovering addict, the road to recovery is a familiar but difficult one. He became addicted to pain relievers at the age of 14, and by the time he reached his twenties, he had become addicted to cocaine as well.
“When I was using, I was willing to go to any length to achieve that next high ““It gradually evolved to the point where I was using it every day,” Kotler explained. My body wasn’t even close to being in a healthy state when I had to get up and use it.”
Two years ago, he made the decision to seek treatment after watching his goals diminish while witnessing the deaths of several of his friends as a result of overdosing.
The amount of alcohol that I was consuming today seems absurd when I think about it.””
Since then, with the assistance of support groups, he has maintained his sobriety.
And, while he feels the concept of an “addiction vaccination” has potential, he is also skeptical of the idea, claiming that such a therapy overlooks the underlying causes of addiction.
“It’s incredible that they’ve been able to put something like that together, but the entire foundation of rehabilitation is admitting that I had a problem in the first place “he explained. “Going through a rehabilitation program alters one’s perspective; it is no longer only about the drugs.”
It would be distinct from some of the therapies now accessible to addicts, such as suboxone or methadone, in that it would prevent addiction from occurring. Those operate by binding to drug receptors in the brain to prevent the drug from entering the brain, but the suggested vaccination would prevent the drug from entering the brain at all.
It is expected that any addiction vaccine will not be licensed for use in humans for at least another decade, if not longer, according to the researchers.
Online fundraising in support of the Scripps Research Institute is presently running on crowdrise.com with the title “Support Heroin Vaccine Research at the Scripps Research Institute.”” So far, more than $32,000 has been raised toward the organization’s $60,000 fundraising target.