Vaccines for Combating Addiction Should Be Part of Comprehensive Addiction Research
Treating drug addiction with another substance that could itself be addictive is a complex and highly debated topic among healthcare and psychological providers. Recent research is addressing this challenge, focused on developing a vaccine that may help offset nicotine addiction as well as other anti-addiction formulas, such as those designed for methamphetamine addiction.
The topic isn’t new, with research for anti-addiction vaccines now several decades old. Some animal laboratory studies have shown potential, but other similar studies on humans have not yet produced significant results.
Still, the work continues. According to recent posts on the New Zealand Doctor, Peter Burkhard, a professor at the University of Connecticut, once thought the concept of a vaccine that could help offset the nature of addiction itself wasn’t possible. However, Burkhard has been given a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding award to pursue a specific vaccine that will deter the addiction to nicotine and help patients with smoking cessation. Thomas Kosten, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, is also moving forward with an anti-methamphetamine addiction vaccine.
Other researchers and experts return to a more big-picture perspective of addiction, maintaining that addiction is complex and multi-faceted. Merely addressing a physical or biologically based addiction strategy may not be as effective as a strategy that considers the strong emotional and psychological components to addiction. Some experts also point out that vaccinations cause real and lasting indicators in the body, something equated to an addiction marker, whereas treatments like methadone for opioid addictions do not seem to produce these changes.
As research progresses for vaccinations that may address preventing or treating the addiction itself, experts hope the findings will be part of larger scale work to include the emotional and psychologically based factors that are responsible for many people’s lifelong addiction struggles.