Vaccinations for Drug Addiction

Vaccinations for Drug Addiction

Vaccines are a hot topic in the medical community. With parents across the nation debating whether to give their children vaccinations that most doctors consider to be unquestionably the best option for preventing some serious diseases, it has become a divisive issue.

A new type of vaccine is being tested, however, that may have the healthcare community, policymakers, and consumers all in agreement. The vaccines are created to treat drug addiction, a problem that has historically been very expensive to resolve.

For the individual using the drugs, the pattern of treatment and relapse can be mentally and physically challenging. Repeated relapses may damage social relationships and make steady employment impossible. The cost of treatment can also be daunting, depending on the payment options offered by the treatment facility.

Not only is treatment for drug addiction costly to the individual using the drugs, but it is also a significant public health issue. Methamphetamine use and addiction alone cost the U.S. more than $23 billion each year in medical and law enforcement expenses, according to Kim Janda and colleagues.

Janda recently completed a study that tested the effectiveness of three vaccines for treating methamphetamine addiction. Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the study highlights the physical problems caused by methamphetamine addiction, including cardiovascular issues and even death.

Methamphetamine is very addictive, and even users who seek treatment in conventional behavior treatment programs often experience multiple relapses. As an alternative treatment option, there have been vaccines developed in the past but they have either not been very effective or have been cost prohibitive.

The researchers in the current study developed and tested three new vaccines for methamphetamine addiction, each developed to reduce the costs of treatment and help guard against relapse.

The study’s findings show evidence for the effectiveness of the three vaccines, with each producing a good immune response in animal models.

Further research is required to determine whether the same results may be duplicated in human participants. The findings, however, show a potential opportunity for a new approach to treating drug addiction.




The vaccine may present a way for drug addicts to begin recovery immediately and reduce the time of delay in seeking treatment. Instead of facing a seemingly hopeless cycle of using, recovery and relapse, the drug user may seek out help more quickly due to a higher likelihood of achieving a full recovery.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.


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