Researchers have shown for the first time today that a vaccine can help reduce drug abuse. There’s currently no FDA-approved treatment to get people off of cocaine (or crack), so this could really help out the 2.5 million Americans dependent on cocaine.
Thirty-eight percent of drug abusers who were given the vaccine produced anti-cocaine antibodies. Over the course of seven weeks, these subjects were 45 percent likely to have a cocaine-free pee test, as opposed to 35 percent for those who got placebo vaccine instead.
The vaccine works similar to vaccines for microorganisms, training your body to view cocaine as a bad invader. The shots, which include a cocainelike substance (succinylnorcocaine), encourage the body to pump out antibodies against cocaine. The antibodies bind to the coke, which prevents it from getting into the brain, and theoretically prevents people from getting high. Right now, only about 38 percent of the subjects who got the vaccine produced high levels of antibodies, so there’s room for improvement.
Study leader Dr. Thomas Kosten, a psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine, told Popsci.com that they’re planning to confirm the results in a larger study in six cities in January and that the vaccine could become widely available in two to three years.
The study was published in the October issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.