23.9 million Americans use illegal drugs, and every day, 105 people die of an overdose in this country. Here at our addiction treatmen Delray Beach program, we try to do what we can to ameliorate the problem, but even with a comprehensive holistic treatment plan that consists of medical care, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, social support, career counseling and aftercare services, relapse rates are high. Addiction is a chronic disease, and there’s a 60 percent chance that the people we help in our addiction treatment Delray Beach program will find themselves in the grip of active addiction again at some point during their lives. This is the nature of addiction.
But what if there was a vaccine that could cure addiction? Such a vaccine could save thousands of lives by preventing addiction relapse. And scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College believe it could soon be a reality.
How Could an Addiction Vaccine Work?
The proposed vaccine would trigger a recovering addict’s immune system to “attack” molecules of an addictive substance once they enter the body. This immune response would stop the drug molecules from reaching the brain, so the recovering addict would no longer feel the high he or she had become accustomed to after using the drug.
But how is it possible for the immune system to detect molecules of an addictive substance in the blood? Normally, those molecules would be too miniscule for the immune system to identify them. But study leader Roger Crystal and his team have attached molecules of an addictive substance – in this case, cocaine – to a particle that mimics the structure of a viral protein. When Crystal and his team inject the vaccine into a primate, its immune system recognizes the viral protein and launches an attack against them – and against the cocaine molecules attached to them.
Though Crystal and his team are working on developing a vaccine against cocaine addiction specifically, he points out that it’s possible to use to same method to create a vaccine against other substances, too. Researchers on other teams are working on vaccines to stop meth, heroin and PCP addiction. Such vaccines could prove lifesaving to folks going through our program for addiction treatment in Delray Beach.
Human Clinical Trials Coming Soon
Crystal and his team have successful tested their cocaine vaccine in mice and rhesus macaque monkeys. When the researchers injected the vaccinated monkeys with cocaine, they found that cocaine antibodies in the monkeys’ immune systems successfully blocked the action of the cocaine. When offered a choice of cocaine or chocolate, the vaccinated monkeys – who would have previously chosen the cocaine – instead chose the chocolate. The researchers took this as evidence that the cocaine was no longer doing anything for the vaccinated monkeys.
The experts here at our addiction treatment Delray Beach program are excited to announce that human clinical trials of Crystal’s cocaine addiction vaccine are expected to begin by the end of 2014. “The fact that works very well in monkeys is a real suggestion that it might work well in humans,” Crystal said.
It’s believed that if addicts no longer get a rush from their substance of choice, they’ll be less prone to relapse.
An Addiction Vaccine Can’t Replace Addiction Treatment Delray Beach Programs
Although the cocaine addiction vaccine is very promising, it’s no substitute for comprehensive addiction treatment. That’s because, although addiction does cause physiological changes in the brain, it also has its roots in psychological, emotional and behavioral problems. Many of the people we help in our addiction treatment Delray Beach program, upon finding that they could no longer get high from cocaine or another drug of choice, would simply look for another substance to abuse.
A drawback of the proposed addiction vaccine is that it can’t block the action of substances across the board – it can only be effective against one substance. Addicts would still need help from an evidence-based, holistic treatment program in order to make a sustainable recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our addiction treatment Delray Beach program can help. Call us today at 888-699-5679.