There Could Soon Be a Vaccine for Drug Addiction

drug addictionEvery year, health professionals offer flu vaccines to help protect your immune system against the virus. When you were young, you likely also received a round of multiple vaccines called immunizations to prevent a number of harmful conditions. Soon, those in recovery for substance abuse could start receiving vaccines to help prevent relapse.

Researchers have spent the past few decades developing vaccines to counter the effects of drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine, nicotine, heroin, methamphetamine, and possibly even alcohol. While there are currently medications available to help people overcome their addictions to certain substances, vaccines would eliminate the need to take these medications daily. Vaccines would also likely have fewer side effects compared to those common with current treatment medications, such as joint pain and anxiety.

People become addicted to drugs because they interfere with the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Once a drug reaches the brain, it stimulates a feeling of pleasure, producing a “high.” The brain starts to recognize how good that high feels. Therefore, a person beings to “crave” more of the drug that activates that high. This is the part of the process anti-drug vaccines aim to prevent.

These vaccines help the immune system produce antibodies assigned to attack a drug like cocaine or heroin before it reaches the brain. This prevents someone from getting high off of that drug. Without achieving that high, the one motivation most people have to continue using harmful drugs is no longer a barrier to recovery.

Statistics from The National Institute on Drug Abuse show that prescription opioids alone cost the United States around $26 billion annually, just in health care expenses. Developing new and effective ways to treat addiction is essential not just for improving the lives of everyone affected by it, but in changing the well-being of everyone as a whole.

These vaccines would likely only be used to help those in substance abuse recovery stay clean. You won’t see them becoming part of childhood immunizations anytime soon. However, they could become another measure recovering individuals can take to stay away from alcohol or drugs as they heal. These vaccines could still make a huge difference in thousands, if not millions, of lives around the world.

Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.
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