After deeming drug addiction to be a disease, scientists have worked over a decade to find a vaccine to prevent this issue rather than spend more time and money curing it. The result of their efforts was TA-CD, a vaccine developed by Xenova Group to counter the effects of cocaine and treat addiction. However, the question everyone has one mind is: does the cocaine vaccine work?
The Results of Animal Trials
The vaccine, which is designed to prevent cocaine from reaching the brain, has proven successful during animal testing. Created by combining norcocaine with inactivated cholera toxin, the vaccine’s destroys each molecule of cocaine before it crosses the blood-brain barrier. As a result, it can prevent the “high” feeling addicts get from using cocaine and ultimately rid them from the habit once and for all.
While initially testing on lab mice, researchers injected the vaccine and noticed a strong immune response. Upon extracting the antibodies and putting them in test tubes, the cocaine disappeared. To further prove their success, scientists have shown that mice that received cocaine followed by the vaccine were less hyperactive than those given the drug alone.
The next step was to test the vaccine on non-human primates as they are closer in biology to humans. Conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College, research uncovered that the effect of cocaine on primates’ brains were reduced to 20% or less. This was below the threshold by which addicts get the high they seek from cocaine.
How Safe is the Vaccine for Humans?
Researchers are planning to start testing the vaccine on people. However, there have been some niggling issues which made people wonder if the vaccine is worth trying.
- In 2010, a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry proved that the TA-CD vaccine doesn’t stop cravings of cocaine. As a result, some test participants took 10 times their usual cocaine dosage to override the vaccine’s effects. Some even went ahead and searched for a package that got them the buzz they needed.
- The vaccine doesn’t protect against the side effects of cocaine, especially on the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Therefore, drug addicts will still suffer the consequences of substance abuse regardless of whether they take the vaccine or not.
These issues will be addressed before the human clinical trials for sure, but this means that the vaccine’s availability won’t be any time soon.
What You Should Do Now
If you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine, waiting for the vaccine will not be a good idea. Scientists expect it to be marketable within a decade from now. Therefore, you need to take a stand right now and work on kicking the habit today.
For the Addict
If you have decided to turn a leaf, the first thing you should do is get someone involved. You will need all the moral support you can get, especially to start rehab and during the cleansing process. Once inside the rehab, put your main goal, i.e. to be clean and drug free, ahead of you and work towards it. Also remember that the staff is there to help you, so work with them even if you feel that their techniques are harsh on you.
For the Family and Friends
Seeing a friend or family member succumb to cocaine or any form of drug addiction is the last thing you’d ever want. However, you need to grow strong and take the lead of their lives firmly. Get your addicted loved one enrolled in a drug rehab program as soon as possible. Then, keep in touch with the physicians and staff handling their case. Even if the facility doesn’t let you inside at first, someone will tell your loved one that you’re always asking about them. This will give them hope to continue the treatment.
Your role, however, won’t end once your recovered addict has left. You will need to keep a close eye on them to ensure that they don’t relapse. This is especially important if their history with addiction is a long one. So, make sure that they attend post-rehab programs and steer away from the reasons and people who drove them to addiction.
So, rather than waiting for a vaccine and delaying your treatment, take action today and let drug addiction be part of your or your loved one’s past.
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