WASHINGTON, D.C. – An ongoing medical development in the battle against drugs has lead to an “anti-addiction” vaccine being promoted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), but the proposed solution this jab offers is being questioned by some who are concerned about the possibilities of its potential misuse.
Officials for NIDA – part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – lauded the use of “anti-addiction vaccines aimed at eliciting antibodies that block the effects of a specific drug” in the agency’s 2016 to 2020 strategic plan to combat drug addiction.
Addiction has become a massive problem in the United States; according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, with 75,673 of those deaths being attributed to opioids.
In 2017, then-NIH director Dr. Francis S. Collins and current NIDA director Dr. Nora D. Volkow encouraged scientists to develop vaccines that specifically target drugs such as opioids; while work on these vaccines have been undertaken, they are currently still in development and are not in active use.
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How the anti-addiction vaccines would function, according to Chemical and Engineering News, is they would enable an individual’s immune system to produce antibodies that would bind to a specific type of drug and prevent it from entering the bloodstream and reaching the brain. As a result, the user would be unable to get high.
While many experts are in favor of continued research into anti-addiction vaccines, others have noted that similar approaches in the past – such as Antabuse, which is used to treat problem drinking by creating an unpleasant reaction to alcohol – have not proven effective, especially if the addict does not wish to stop using, or the root cause of their addiction is left untreated.
However, there are other potential issues that could come with the development of these vaccines that have others worried, especially when it comes to the concept of an injection that could potentially modify human behavior in custom-tailored ways, especially if such a substance was forced upon them as per COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
In addition, there is also criticism over the potential for pharmaceutical companies – the same ones that manufactured the opioids that have caused the majority of overdose deaths in the United States – would then reap huge profits from making vaccines to treat the nationwide addiction they helped usher in.