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Cocaine Vaccine Backfires Horribly

I wonder if any of the researchers saw this coming:

The vaccine, called TA-CD, shows promise but could also be dangerous; some of the addicts participating in a study of the vaccine started doing massive amounts of cocaine in hopes of overcoming its effects, according to Thomas R. Kosten, the lead researcher on the study, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in October.

Nobody overdosed, but some of them had 10 times more cocaine coursing through their systems than researchers had encountered before, according to Kosten. He said some of the addicts reported to researchers that they had gone broke buying cocaine from multiple drug dealers, hoping to find a variety that would get them high. [Washington Post]

Whoa, that's doesn't sound like any fun at all. I assume the researchers told these people not to bother increasing their dose. Stories like this are the reason I'm skeptical of drugs that block receptors for other drugs.
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Can't agree here.

I don't agree that it "backfired". If a vaccine actually killed the addict's ability to get high, it could be useful for those who really wanted to stop using. That is, if they were true addicts.

Everyone that uses an illegal drug is misclassified as a drug "addict". By definition addiction is a compulsive behavior that causes physical or social harm to a patient. Thus, most people, would not be classified addicts, anyway. With that definition, it is the illegality that causes the most harm to drug users.

And, as LEAP points out, the addiction rate among the general population has remained the same, ever since it was recorded, early in the last century. (between 1-2%, maybe?) Then, we must ask the question, "why?" Do they not understand there are many "social" drug users, as with alcohol? Social drinking has never come under scrutiny, like this.

Most, knowledgeable people, understand that alcohol is much more dangerous. It kills college kids, every year, by overdose (alcohol poisoning). And the LD50, for cannabis, is so high that no one, in the history of the world, has ever overdosed by smoking it.

They guy trying to overcome that vaccine, although not a planned activity in the study, may have provided more information than any of the other participants did. The vaccine killed the ability to get high! He was living proof!

Sort of reminds me of the last X-men movie. Who really needs the cure, here?

I do think it backfired

I do think it backfired because them going broke is a problem. Not only is it a problem for them, but for anyone who might depend on them monetarily. Plus, if they ended up stealing it's even worse.

Anyway, it seems fine that this would exist for people who think it might help them quit, but i'm worried about the fanatical anti-drug people out there who will want to give this to people without their consent. It definitely should not just be given to whoever is caught with cocaine. It's debatable it could be allowed punishment/treatment for addicts who commit other crimes, but still, it's a gray area. I'd be more open to it if they did the same with problem drinkers (there's a similar substance for alcohol).

What they really should be working on is an antidote for cocaine overdoses. (I think this vaccine itself might be an antidote, but I'm not sure). It angers me that so many people talk about coercing users off their drug but few talk about saving their lives. Also, hardly anyone talks about helping users (whether addicts or not), to achieve better lives while still using. Whether it be by modifying their use patterns to function better, using less, using in different ways, working on relationships, or just trying to modify their behavior in any helpful way other than stopping use, hardly anyone is trying to develop treatments for that. The only thing most people care about is to see zero drug use; nothing else means squat to them. And it's really stupid because there's probably a lot that could be done for them and their families (and for society) if people were more open to alternatives.

Nice thought!

Small correction. Antabuse is nothing like this vaccine. The Antabuse makes people, taking it, as sick as a dog! If one is given Antabuse, they must be told because the reaction to alcohol could be life threatening in some people. It is more of a deterrent, that way! It would be a useful addition, if we could make something like that for drugs. But, I am sure they have been trying for a long time to do just that.

I agree that the risk of abuse by the drug warriors is very high. The probably think "to hell with ethics, we are fighting a war!"

The vaccine would take too long to be effective, as an antidote. Vaccines generally take weeks to months before they become affective. But thinking of it as an antidote was a nice thought.

Drugs are bad

So they send a SWAT team to invade your home in the middle of the night, shoot your dogs and terrorize your children. Then you go to jail, and the first thing they do is try to force THEIR choice of drugs down your throat. The mainstay of "substance abuse treatment" is the application of a variety of dangerous, addictive drugs. No person is more deserving of contempt than a "functioning addict" who "self-medicates." Because drugs, as we all know, are bad.

war on drugs bad

if they spent half as much money treating addicts as they do locking them up we would all be better off.and you cant treat someone who dosent want it find people who really want to stop then test.not weekend warriors.

“Some of them” = Darwin Awards

You have to wonder about people who bet their lives in a vain effort to compete with a receptor blocker.  Coke fiends with a mission?  There’s always some fool out there willing to whack themselves and make drugs look wicked.

I suspect (hope) Baylor College of Medicine in Houston is backed by a good liability insurance policy, if not the State of Texas, which would make this latest scientific venture into cocaine-world a make-work-project for a few insurance company lawyers.

A drug receptor vaccine for cocaine sounds abrupt, but all research leads in addiction need follow up and study.  There’s always the possibility that some yet-to-be-discovered tiny bit of information will provide the needed key to a scientific revolution in addiction related health care, or whatever else addiction tells us about how the human brain works.

Yes, Indeed!

I did not see your signature placed at the end, as you usually do. But, I should have know from the intelligent response!

If doctors actually knew how the brain functions, then we would be far along the way to finding out what drives addiction. Thing is, it seems that we know very little about the brain's function. As a result, there are some things, in medicine, that look no better than practicing voodoo. But it is "standard of care"!

Michael G Langley, MD

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