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Addiction Vaccines as a Possible Supplement to Recovery Programs

Vaccines for addictions can help but does not “cure” addictions.In the pursuit to find the means by which to “cure” addiction, numerous therapies and programs of recovery have been developed and have evolved to the point where we have, today, a dizzying number of options open to those who are seeking to eliminate their dependence upon drugs and/or alcohol. Many of these approaches emphasise the importance of “commitment” and “difficulty” regarding the “road” to recovery. The alcoholic needs to “want” to get better; he or she must be committed to the idea of sobriety. The drug addict must understand that there will be difficulties to be encountered while passing through the rigors of addiction treatment therapy and abstinence and that there will be numerous “sacrifices” that will be required of him or her until the life of recovery become comfortable. Most of those who voluntarily seek help with their addictions understand the “commitment/difficulty” requirements and have come to understand that their need to overcome their addiction is greater than any concerns about “difficulties” – their “commitment” is firm.

For some, the idea of commitment and the prospect of difficulty or “hardship” prove to be a psychological impediment to achieving the first step: asking for help. The alcoholic or addict is already suffering from severe psychological issues and are often ashamed or belligerently resistant to admitting to any sense of “powerlessness”. They are possibly weak and frightened, and the thought of having to commit to a program involving hard work is seemingly beyond their perceived abilities at the time of their beginning awareness of their dire predicament.

The development of an “addiction vaccine” has been discussed throughout the medical and psychology communities for many years. The research has been ongoing and has yielded mixed results. (read previous article). The determination by the medical community that there are physical changes that occur in the brain in regards to addiction has led to an increase in research and clinical analysis of possible antibody vaccines. The thinking behind this research is that a proper vaccine will negate the effects of the stimulant. In other words, the user will not experience the “high” that they seek when they consume their drug of choice. This, researchers say, will end the desire that the addict has to consume the narcotic or alcohol they have become dependent upon. Counterarguments suggest that this will simply lead the addict/alcoholic to seek out a different stimulant. There are such a variety of stimulants available on both the legal and illegal markets that destroying the effects of one on the brain still leaves many options available IF the addict still desires an artificial means by which to deal with the foundational issues that led to the addiction in the first place. A vaccine will only have limited success unless the recovering individual is “committed” to recovery. There is no “magic” pill here. There is still a need for a committed decision to “work hard” to get well.

Addiction vaccines can help but not “cure” addictive behaviour

The popularity of the “idea” of the vaccine is understandably quite high. This is especially true of family and friends that are watching someone they love go through the torturous life of addiction are painful and frustrating. Much of the frustration can stem from a limited ability to understand the root causes of addiction or perhaps empathise with the addict/alcoholic.  The prospect of a medical treatment that will “cure” the loved one is obviously of great appeal. But, without the supplemental treatment programs offered in addiction recovery, such as those at Sobriety Home that include cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic therapy and many more, the vaccine solution can only have a limited impact. There is no quick and easy solution to recovery. It will always require a “commitment” and a willingness to work hard through the best suited recovery program in order to confront the “foundational” causes of the addiction and to work towards an overall, lasting approach that will address the behavioural “changes” that will lead to a satisfactory recovery and a greater quality of life. A vaccine would be a welcomed addition to the programs that are already in place as well as those that will be developed over time. There are no “quick fix” paths to addiction recovery and the hopes and aspirations of both the addict/alcoholic and those who love and care about them should be grounded on the premise of  a “commitment” to a lasting plan of action that includes the work necessary to achieve lasting health.

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