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Vaccine Could Cut Heroin Addiction 382

JumperCable writes "Scientists at Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry are working on a vaccine that makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure. The researchers say they have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans. Mice given the vaccine showed a huge drop in heroin consumption. 'It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs.'"
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Vaccine Could Cut Heroin Addiction

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  • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:23AM (#39147685)

    No. A heroin vaccine, like the cocaine vaccine, is designed to train the immune system to launch a very targeted attack against a specific molecule surface. Not by altering or interfering with pathways or receptors or neurotransmitters. Generally the target region for the antibody is not the same as the portion of the molecule that triggers receptors.

    Also, we damn near force babies and small children to get vaccinations. Chances are if we don't give the injection to addicts, we'll be giving it to kids as a form of prevention.

  • by YttriumOxide ( 837412 ) <yttriumox@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:56AM (#39148115) Homepage Journal

    Yep. Methadone has all the addictive qualities without all the pleasing euphoria.

    So people are getting addicted to something with no pleasant qualities? Please explain your logic.

    While the GP may possibly be wrong about the lack of "pleasing euphoria", it's very easy to be addicted to something with no pleasant qualities. People who have never been addicted to anything are usually unaware of the difference between a psychological addiction and a physical addiction.

    I'm a smoker, and I don't really enjoy it at all anymore. My lungs hurt if I smoke too much (which I definitely do on occasion); I cough up goo most mornings; I could really do with the extra cash from quitting; and I'm a father and hate the idea of my little girl growing up seeing me with a cigarette in my mouth. BUT, I still haven't quit despite several attempts. The reason for this is that the withdrawals are so extremely unpleasant that in a moment of weakness, I end up smoking again.

    On the other side of the coin, I really enjoy taking LSD on occasion. It's fun, it's stress relieving, it's cheaper (and less harmful) than a night out with alcohol; and I would even say that I'm better at my job because of it (I'm a software developer and have definitely had moments of "insight" while tripping). All of that said, I could never take it again and it'd be no problem at all. LSD is not physically addictive (it could in theory be psychologically addictive, as with anything enjoyable (think "chocoholics"); however due to the fact that it's a pretty intense experience, taking it too often would remove the fun for me at least).

    It's basically very easy to be addicted to something with no pleasant qualities; and also (as should be obvious) to not be addicted to something that brings a lot of pleasure.

  • Re:other opiates? (Score:5, Informative)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:13PM (#39148349) Homepage Journal
    Since the active compound in Heroin, codeine, and morphine is morphine (the first two are converted into it in the brain), those are right out. Semisynthetics may or may not be affected.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:15PM (#39148375)

    Methadone is typical for people so addicted that cold turkey would kill them

    This is not true. No one dies from opiod withdrawal. Oh sure you FEEL like you're going to die, and I'm sure some have comitted suicide because of this. But the withdrawal itself is relatively harmless unless you already have severe circulatory problems (some patients can develop hypertension in the first few days).

    Benzodiazepine (like valium, ativan, etc) (seizures), alcohol (seizures, hypoglycemia, arrhythmias) and cocaine (long QT syndrome leading to fatal arrhythmia) withdrawal can all kill you. But not opioids. Your whole body will ache, you will have the shits, you will feel like you are on fire, your head will feel like it is exploding and you will feel like you have a cold and be coughing like crazy. But you won't die.

  • by Cstryon ( 793006 ) <Cstryon@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:18PM (#39148415)

    Death is not a side effect of opiate withdrawals. Usually related deaths seem to be tired to a combination of the withdrawal, and a predisposition. Methadone is an opiate just like heroin, hydrocodone, etc. You'll get high with it.

    There is suboxone, which is a commonly used drug thagt combines an opiate with something else that blocks the reward systems so you don't get high. Maybe that's what you were thinking of?

    Just so we are clear, I'm an EMT, and I work at a medical detox/ crisis center. I deal with drug use and everything that comes with it.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:37PM (#39148701) Homepage

    The idea behind methadone is that you're not supposed to keep using it. You use it when detoxing to gradually step down, but surprise surprise, heroin addicts don't use it as intended.

    The term generally used is 'methadone maintenance therapy' - the key being the 'maintain' part of it. While some people do wean themselves off it the drug entirely, that's considered an added benefit. That's why they are set up as 'clinics'. The theory behind MMT, is that methadone doesn't give the INTENSELY EUPHORIC rush of heroin because you can't (safely) inject or snort it. Thus, the intense craving for another hit of heroin is diminished as well as the societal issues surrounding getting that hit. You do become physically addicted to the methadone and will go through withdrawal without it. But it's long enough acting that once a day dosing is sufficient for most people. Thus, the addicted person can maintain a much more normal life that the typical free range heroin addict.

    With the rise of methadone on the street (it's really impressive on how many people have methadone in their urine toxicology screens in the ER), it's become apparent that this part of society has come up with new uses for an old drug (this is America! Innovate!). Aside from it's value in chronic pain - and a subset of people who get addicted to narcotics started out with chronic pain - it does blunt withdrawal symptoms. So if you have a bad, say, oxycodone habit but can't get the pills, you can take a methadone and chill out for a day or two or twenty. Then switch to the short acting drug that give you the real high when you can get it. You just can get a good dealer anymore.....

    Then there are those folk that find that they can get a buzz with methadone. Usually you have to mix it with something else, but hey, that's not a problem. Actually it is - most of the methadone deaths are usually where you have a combination of psychoactive drugs on board. While you might be able to guess at the lethal dose of a particular drug, when you combine them it gets much more complicated.

    You can have some interesting conversations with ER patients once you take out the endotracheal tube.

  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:03PM (#39149091) Homepage
    Yes, methadone is more addictive and harder to kick than heroin. it is basically synthetic heroin so why not "improve" on those qualities? Methadone is just the substance used by clinics to keep their patients from having to go out and score real dope, and all the crime that goes with feeding that habit. Someone who was doing $80 of heroin a day can now take about $10 worth of methadone and not be sick.

    And to anyone who hasn't tried heroin - don't bother. Yes it makes you feel incredible, but that is a short honeymoon. Messing with heroin only ends in three ways - death, jail, or kicking the habit. Two of them are no fun at all, and the only option left gets you back to where you started. It isn't cool or glamorous at all.

There's no future in time travel.