2. Scientists Are Developing a Vaccine to Prevent Cocaine Addiction
Scientists are creating a cocaine vaccine. These vaccines are not yet available to the public but research on monkeys and mice injected with the vaccine has been positive so far.
Researchers do not just have one vaccine- they have two. Both vaccines were developed by teams under the direction of a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College named Ronald Crystal.
One vaccine works by using antibodies – a part of the human immune system- to attack dangerous molecules like cocaine. The antibodies would then get rid of the drug molecules once they enter the body because the vaccinated immune system would see these molecules as a threat to the health of the person.
The vaccine includes cocaine-like molecules, not cocaine itself. These molecules are included to train the immune system to know what to look for when attacking these molecules and prevent them from attack the wrong molecules.
This vaccine was tested on monkeys. The team injected the monkeys with a molecule that aids imaging so that they could see the areas of the brain that cocaine binds to. The idea was the if the vaccine stopped the cocaine from reaching these parts of the brain, they would see a strong signal coming back from the imaging receptors. In the actual study, the monkey’s brain lit up almost completely which meant that almost no cocaine made it into their brains. The monkeys that had not been given the vaccine saw much weaker results as the receptors were much dimmer.
This vaccine lasted for four months in the monkeys during this study.
The second vaccine includes the use of gene therapy, an up-and-coming part of biotechnology. The vaccine would use a virus to spread genetic materials into the body’s liver cells. These cells would then create proteins that include the genetic material. This genetic material contains a blueprint that the body can use to build antibodies that will attack cocaine.
The second vaccine was tested on mice. The researchers found that the vaccinated mice would act very calmly when injected with cocaine. Unvaccinated mice would run manically around the cage. This vaccine lasted around 17 weeks.
Crystal says that he is developing these vaccines because he sees cocaine addiction as a social problem that can and should be eliminated. He says that cocaine use is illegal, expensive, can cause serious changes in behavior patterns and is addictive.
1. Cocaine Is Not the Most Addictive Drug Out There
Cocaine is highly addictive; there is no doubt about that. However, there are both legal and illegal drugs that are more highly addictive than even cocaine can be. In fact, cocaine is only the third most addictive drug available on the market.
The most addictive drug that you can buy today is nicotine, which is why people have such a difficult time when they try to quit smoking. Nicotine has long-lasting withdrawals and a high amount of dependence. That it is so accessible to anyone with an ID only reinforces addiction. When you consider that nicotine is more addictive than drugs such as heroin and cocaine, you can see what a dangerous drug it truly is.
Nicotine does not feel dangerous. There are advertisements for cigarettes on billboards, the internet and in magazines. It does not offer the rush that you would get from cocaine or heroin. But what it does do is change the brain so that it requires more nicotine to function properly.
Surprisingly, heroin is only the second most addictive drug but this is not for lack of seriousness. The effects of heroin are documented not only by doctors, research groups and law enforcement officials. Heroin dominated the underbelly of American poetry and literature for a good portion of the 20th century.
Heroin essentially trains the brain to make it crave it more which makes it very difficult to quit. It also offers some of the worst withdrawal symptoms and is second only to alcohol in this regard. Heroin withdrawal does not just feel like it can kill you; it can actually kill you.
Of course, an honorable mention should also include methadone and methamphetamine, both of which are highly addictive. However, they are not considered to be in the same class as heroin and nicotine because they do not have the same number of users.
If you ask law enforcement or doctors, they will probably tell you that cocaine addiction is an expensive menace both regarding public health and the justice system. However, cocaine addiction, like all addiction, is not a black and white problem. The reasons that people try and get addicted to cocaine vary between individuals and some people find great addiction than others. Most people can agree on one thing. Cocaine is an expensive way to wreck an otherwise healthy body in ways that simply cannot be reversed. From collapsed arteries to collapsed noses, chasing a new high wreaks havoc on both the mind and the body.
Fortunately, there are a lot of new ways that people can seek help for cocaine addiction. Some of these methods are more expensive than the cocaine itself, but things like vaccines can help addicts kick their habit without relying on another crutch.
Cocaine begins its life as a simple leaf growing high up in the Andes mountains. These 10 weird facts show how something so natural and simple can do so much damage.