Cocaine Vaccine: A New Treatment Option

Cocaine is the most commonly abused stimulant in the United States. Narconon rehab has found that according to a 2007 survey done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health approximately 2.1 million Americans had used cocaine in one month alone.

This is a serious health concern as the National Institutes of Health list several potentially fatal problems that result from cocaine abuse, including:

•    Respiratory failure
•    Heart problems
•    Digestive problems
•    Nervous system difficulties

Hope for Dependency

Narconon rehab counselors recognize that cocaine dependency is particularly difficult to treat because of the substance’s highly addictive nature.

However, Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City has developed an anti-cocaine vaccine that offers hope for those suffering from cocaine addiction. The vaccine is still in early development, but it shows great promise.

The vaccine, known as TA-CD, works by combining molecules that resemble cocaine with part of the virus for the common cold. This combination enlists the immune system in the fight against cocaine addiction.

TA-CD blocks the “high” sensation of cocaine from reaching the brain’s reward centers, thus eliminating the chemistry that causes cocaine cravings. In this way, cocaine users no longer achieve a buzz from the drug, so in theory, it loses its appeal.

In mice, TA-CD resulted in cocaine antibody production, which taught the immune systems of the mice to regard cocaine in the same way they would any usual threat.

These mice exhibited reduced cocaine high symptoms, which meant TA-CD was successfully inoculating the mice against cocaine. Initial results were encouraging, demonstrating up to 13 weeks of effectiveness after just one treatment.

The Human Element

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supported human placebo-controlled trials of TA-CD in 2009. This study covered a three month period and included 115 patients from a methadone program.

The trial also incorporated therapy and drug use monitoring for the participants. The trials showed that cocaine use was substantially reduced in 38 percent of the patients who received TA-CD.

The lowest cocaine usage correlated with patients who had the highest antibody levels. In some cases, antibodies remained active for up to ten weeks; in others, no antibodies were produced at all.

Unfortunately, none of the patients was able to maintain complete abstinence during the course of the trial. Some of the addicts even tried to increase their cocaine usage to compensate for the loss of the high sensation the drug normally provided.

This behavior could and did lead to cocaine overdose. Another complicating element is the variance among human immune systems. Not all systems respond equally to the vaccine.

Promise for the Future

A key point to remember in the use of TA-CD is that while the physiological high is removed from cocaine, the underlying psychology of the addictive behavior is not. Unless that underlying cause is treated, cocaine addicts may very likely have continued issues with substance abuse. TA-CD would be most effective when used with addicts in treatment who are truly motivated to recover.

The cocaine vaccine offers promising benefits for the future, but in the meantime, there are proven effective rehabilitation options for cocaine addiction available today such as Narconon rehab. Drug Withdrawal facilities and other traditional treatment centers offer both inpatient and outpatient programs with comprehensive assistance and support in living a drug-free life.

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