Immunized Against Addiction 

Immunized Against Addiction 
Posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 11:08:56 PT
By Dawn MacKeen, Senior Writer 
Source: Salon Magazine
Can a simple vaccine kill the appetite for cocaine? Researchers may soon find out. The 10 years of hardcore drug use are a blur to Janet -- the weeks she barely ate or slept, the many times she avoided seeing her parents, the ways she went about getting crystal meth and coke. But one thing is clear: On a summer morning two years ago, she woke up and quit. And then she left every reminder of her old life, including her husband, her job, her town.
"I did the coke to be more outgoing," says the 30-year-old, who asked that her real name not be used. "The first high of it was positive, but then you start to lose that and you want more, and if you can't get it, you kind of crash out of society."Doctors have long been baffled why some people, like Janet, can quit drugs on their own and others can't, even with the help of toll-free hot lines, counselors and countless 12-step programs. But a new form of treatment for addicts could help when other attempts fail -- and change the way we look at addiction.Researchers at Yale University recently completed the first human tests of a cocaine vaccine. Scientists also are experimenting with immunizations against addiction to methamphetamine, PCP and nicotine. It's unlikely such vaccines would ever be added to the list of routine inoculations, like the polio vaccines given to all kids. But if anti-drug vaccines proved effective, it might trigger a hunt for other biochemical approaches to addiction. "I think it's one of the most promising treatments," says Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "If it is done well and we figure out all the issues, it will be an important addition to the clinical toolbox."In the Yale study, psychiatrist Thomas Kosten found that the cocaine vaccine caused no major side effects. Now he is testing its effectiveness on cocaine addicts at an outpatient clinic. Called TA-CD, the vaccine is being developed by England-based Cantab Pharmaceuticals. It would be administered every six to nine months, Kosten says.The implications of a vaccine to prevent abuse of a drug like cocaine are tremendous. Medical historians point to the possibility of court-ordered shots for drug abusers. And the availability of a medical approach like a vaccine might persuade the public that addiction is actually a disease, not the mark of bad behavior that should be punished. "People should recognize that the use of cocaine that first time was something that was purely a matter of volition, but once cocaine is being used, the drive to use it again is part of your normal biology," says Donald Landry, an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University who is doing research in this field. "It's all well and good to say they should solve it with willpower, but it is an insidious mechanism that is designed to imprint behavior on an individual."Vaccines, of course, are not the first medical approach to addiction. Methadone, used to treat heroin abuse, is effective -- but also happens to be addictive. Critics have undercut its value by deeming it a drug swap. (And obviously, methadone has not eliminated heroin addiction.) While vaccines can escape that accusation, they do come with baggage. Increasingly, they have come under attack because of safety concerns.Researchers say immunization is the way to go with cocaine addiction, in part because they have failed to develop a classical blocker that would prevent the drug from binding to cells in the brain. Theoretically, immunization would stop the cocaine in the bloodstream before it reached the brain.Cocaine is also a good target because of its popularity and its potentially disastrous effects in heavy users -- it's one of the most highly addictive drugs available. Researchers say that anyone can develop an appetite for the drug, which binds to the normal dopamine neurotransmitter. Even lab animals get hooked after they've experienced cocaine highs. "Every mouse will self-administer cocaine; they will press the bar to the exclusion of food, or sex; they will press it until they die," says Kim Janda, professor of chemistry at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. But repeated use is not simply a habit; cocaine alters brain function. "Opiates don't make you stop thinking correctly, but cocaine and amphetamines and methamphetamines actually change the way your brain works," says David Musto, professor of child psychiatry and the history of medicine at Yale. "And so you can get extremely paranoid that people are still after you." Janet knows this well: Two years after she quit taking drugs, she says, she still stays home many days because of intense anxiety attacks around people.Scientists are investigating two immunization techniques. Active immunization works as a conventional vaccine does: It triggers the body to produce antibodies that bind to the cocaine and neutralize it. The second approach, passive immunization, uses injected antibodies that bind to the cocaine and break, or "catalyze," it into harmless fragments. Janda and his colleagues recently completed a study on rats showing that a combination of the two techniques works best, and has less risk of relapse than using the active method alone. Janda's findings will be reported soon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And he will begin testing his approach on people in the next few months, in collaboration with Drug Abuse Sciences, a pharmaceutical company in Menlo Park, Calif.Even if they turn out to work well, these immunization approaches have limitations. If users don't get the high they want, they might take more cocaine to override the effects of the vaccine. (With passive immunization with a catalytic antibody, researchers say, this shouldn't happen as easily.) Moreover, it takes several months to create the needed antibodies -- for example, two months for Kosten's vaccine -- which might be enough time for someone to give up on the treatment.And if the pleasure of cocaine is blocked, a user can always jump to other drugs. "The thing I have learned about drugs is that if you're not getting the high that you want out of it, then you look for alternatives," Janet says. It's also important not to underestimate the craving that addicts have for substances like cocaine, even if they have been clean for years. If, as happened to Janet recently, a former user is in the same room with someone who has cocaine, it can trigger an intense yearning for the drug.The difficulty in treating people who are trying to kick any drug habit goes beyond just biology. No matter how successful a vaccine is, addiction will still be a struggle for many people, researchers say. Typically, complicated psychological, social and personal histories interplay with drug abuse."Many have organized their lives around their addiction, and then when that is stopped, they have to find a new way of reorganizing their lives," says Don DesJarlais, director of research for Beth Israel Medical Center's Chemical Dependency Institute in New York.Janet snorted her first line of cocaine when she was 18, just after being told she would never be able to have children because of an accident. She was already carrying a heavy emotional burden, she says, having been molested at age 4 and raped by several men at age 11. When she looks back on the beginning of her habit and wonders if anything could have stopped her, Janet says that perhaps if she'd been living at home and her parents had dragged her to get vaccinated, and had monitored her, then maybe she would have stopped. But she insists, as do the researchers developing these vaccines, that all the medical attention in the world won't eliminate drug addiction. The key to quitting is having the desire, and the will, to quit. | April 26, 2000About the Writer:Dawn MacKeen is a Senior Writer for Salon Health & Body. Published: April 26, 2000Copyright  2000 Related Article:Can an Antibody Gobble Up Cocaine Cravings? Articles On Addiction, Cocaine & Articles From Salon Magazine:
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Comment #11 posted by dddd on April 28, 2000 at 04:00:43 PT
Janet Reno
I feel sorry for anyone who is in a situation where the benifits of marijuana are not availiable because of the absurd demonization and lies that exsist. I had to watch my Mom die of cancer.She couldnt keep food down because of chemo-therapy,and she was so convinced that marijuana was evil and bad,that she refused to try it.I cant find words,to express how this made me feel about our countrys' BOGUS drug policy. Thanx again FoM.Keep on keepin' on.You are doing a good thing here.......sincerely.....dddd
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on April 27, 2000 at 10:18:26 PT
Thanks dddd
Thanks dddd,Marijuana is so mild and helps with so many things. I was watching Janet Reno on CNN this morning and I actually felt sorry for her because of her health. I really believe that Marijuana could help Parkinson's patients too. I don't know if anyone has tried to see if Marijuana works. I at the moment don't recall any news articles that I've done that says anything about Parkinson's Disease. If it does help it won't make the Pharmaceuticals companies rich so no one will want to look that far. That's what I believe!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #9 posted by dddd on April 27, 2000 at 00:33:24 PT
none of everything
 Here's my usually questionable two cents worth; For one thing,if the people behind the drug war,were actually concerned about helping people with such problems,funding for treatment would have been a main priority all along. Now that there is news of some miracle cure for people who are addicted to substances,,,accidently,or by choice.......this will be touted as some sort of "cure". The sad,and reluctantly admitted to reality is;that even the drug user who can afford the "miracle cure",drug treatment,or perhaps gets it through some mandatory,court ordered program,,they will still want to find some way to ease whatever their pain may be,or alter their mind to numb this pain. Will these people be considered "cured",when they are alcoholic chainsmokers who can pass their drug tests? This is what makes the issue of marijuana so significant. FoM mentioned the reaction of the "doctors" when the subject of marijuana was brought up. Marijuana does not belong in any way,in the category of heroin,cocaine,meth, is way,,WAY different,and it is one of the few,if not the only alternatives to maintaining and exsisting in a world of strangeness and pain. It is truly tragic that it has been demonized,and lumped together with everything else as a "drug".It is an herb,that is more natural than aspirin,and I have to say that I think FoMs' approach is very commendable in putting together this website,and forum for commentary. Legalization of marijuana is a subject that has been clouded with false information,and bogus demonization. The only way we are going to come closer to reality on this thing,is to speak out,and I want to once again thank you,FoM,for what you are doing here.We need more people like you in this strange world...........dddd
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 22:28:44 PT
Ibogaine Articles
Thanks Legalizeit,I only have 7 articles on Ibogaine but here they are and I do believe it works.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #7 posted by legalizeit on April 26, 2000 at 22:24:07 PT
There is a natural drug that can help an addict quit cold turkey - Ibogaine. This amazing property of ibogaine has been known for several years, yet our government, in its foggy one-track prohibition policy, has made ibogaine itself illegal because it is psychedelic - and is making it virtually impossible for researchers in this country to try it on addicted subjects. Some addicts fly to the Netherlands just so they can take some of this PLANT (yet another plant declared illegal!) and many quit heroin "cold turkey" with little to no withdrawal symptoms.I think the government wants to keep people addicted so they can keep throwing them in prison and show all the tobacco-addicted alcoholic child-protecting Republicrat rednecks what a good job they're doing fighting drugs.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 16:00:55 PT
Thanks freedom fighter
freedom fighter thanks for sharing what you just did. I went into a detox hospital back in 94. I went into the so called hospital because when I stopped taking all the prescription drugs I was taking I had the good sense to realize that I could die if I tried to tackle it alone. They didn't help me and I had multiple seisures anyway but that's another story.I remember saying to one of the nurses that when I go home I'll be ok when I can smoke a little marijuana. She told the Doctor and I was read the riot act. He had in big letters across my page when I had to go into see see him. You are going to smoke marijuana? He said if you mean that we won't let you go home since I only went in voluntarily for a 3 day detox. I was confused and didn't smoke for at least a week after I got home and it was Hell Week for me. An old friend that I shared what was happening with me said. You never said that you wouldn't smoke why won't you? I told her my mind was confused but I thought and soon decided it sure couldn't hurt me anymore then I was hurting already so I smoked. I slept that night. I didn't have a nightmare either. I do believe in Cannabis I really do!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #5 posted by freedom fighter on April 26, 2000 at 14:59:31 PT
In fact
I know that cannabis can help a person who is on a bad trip.I once had a bad trip and my friend helped me by forcing me to smoke the cannabis. Needless to say that, I came out of it allright too. I know of another person who was a heroin addict and quit doing that by using cannabis. This same addict said that tobacco is the worst DRUG to quit!Too many of my friends use cannabis to heal themselves.I have a deaf friend who has AIDs who said to me "I must smoke to LIVE." He is not capable of expressing himself as well as I can, so this is one reason I am here. I just pray that I can live to see the legalization of this simple plant.Peace\/
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Comment #4 posted by Dan Hillman on April 26, 2000 at 13:13:36 PT
Big pharmaceutical money behind this one.
>When she looks back on the beginning of her habit and wonders if anything could have stopped her, Janet says that perhaps if she'd been living at home and her parents had dragged her to get vaccinated, and had monitored her, then maybe she would have stopped.*Maybe* she would have stopped cocaine. But she also did meth, which isn't affected at all by the "vaccine".Ah, the wonders of modern medical buffoonery...paid for out of your pharmaceutical drug dollar, by the way.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 12:03:29 PT
Cannabis The Stepping Stone Drug!
freedom fighter cannabis helped me off of prescription pain medicine. Cannabis would be the best way to help a person off of hard drugs. I've believed that way for a couple of years. Medicinal use of Cannabis will help! I wonder how many other people have the same experience? I bet a lot!Peace, FoM!PS: The stepping stone off of hard drugs!
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Comment #2 posted by freedom fighter on April 26, 2000 at 11:53:49 PT
I quit doing coke
by using cannabis!
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Comment #1 posted by Freedom on April 26, 2000 at 11:24:50 PT
I hope so.
> It's unlikely such vaccines would ever be addedto the list of routine inoculations, like the polio vaccines given to all kids.Really? Given the zeal of certain anti-drug warriors, one has to wonder... never say never. They say there are no major complications: care to share the minor ones?One has to wonder what the unintended consequences will be.This treatment should never be coerced, it should only be used with cooperation of the recipient.
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