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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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  • Vaccine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edraven ( 45764 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:44AM (#39147193)

    You keep using that word...

  • by iteyoidar ( 972700 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:45AM (#39147211)
    What happens when someone who got vaccinated with this needs anesthetics or painkillers for surgery? They don't say if it only works on heroin and not a ton of other opioids as well.
  • by pegr ( 46683 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:46AM (#39147217) Homepage Journal

    Since you have no problem with violating human rights, why not just kill addicts? Perhaps eugenics [wikipedia.org] is your thing.

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:47AM (#39147243) Journal
    While heroin has never struck me as a terribly wise drug of choice, the notion of deliberately provoking an immune response to an opiate seems crazy risky...

    We have a fairly extensive endogenous opioid system, with a variety of opioids and opioid receptors, in place and the results of immune system intereference with that would be... likely very unpleasant. If I were of the Mengele school of experimental medicine, I'd be fascinated to learn exactly what flavor of 'very unpleasant'; but I'm guessing that the ethics of that would be pretty shaky.
  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:48AM (#39147255)
    I gave the qualifier "if it is safe", so I think I'm in pretty good shape. Under that qualifier, it is far less of a "violation of human rights" to vaccine against heroin than to lock a human being in a cage for several years, wouldn't you say? Isn't that exactly what prison is, which is the normal "treatment" for the criminal class? What would you propose doing with criminals that doesn't involve "violating their human rights"? Inviting them to tea parties and giving them crumpets?
  • by Gotung ( 571984 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:50AM (#39147281)
    Heroin use does exactly that, diminishes other sorts of pleasure.
  • by CrzyP ( 830102 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:02AM (#39147443)
    Also, as the /. blurb, wouldn't this just increase the consumption for addicts since they cannot get the high they're looking for with "normal" doses, they would just increase the dosage. Right? "..makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure when they smoked or injected it." So they are still addicted and will feel the withdrawal effects and will then start smoking/injecting more of the substance.
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:03AM (#39147455) Journal

    Right opiates work by bonding to chemical receptors in the brain. If a vaccination makes one non-responsive IV opiate drugs like heroin then it must be making significant and lasting changes to neural chemistry. Who knows what all affects that might result in, given or still limited understanding of the brain?

    I don't think conviction of a non capital crime should permit the state to make permanent changes to persons body. That is slippery slope our society needs to stay the heck away from. I really think no matter how good an idea it might seem, no matter how many people it might "help" we really need to agree that there are lines we just won't cross because they run counter to the character of our society.

  • by blahbooboo ( 839709 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:22AM (#39147669)

    Right opiates work by bonding to chemical receptors in the brain. If a vaccination makes one non-responsive IV opiate drugs like heroin then it must be making significant and lasting changes to neural chemistry. Who knows what all affects that might result in, given or still limited understanding of the brain?

    And those same receptors are used legitimately to reduce pain while sick or recovering from injury. If this is non-reversable that's a whole class of pain killers not available to these people later on in their lives.

  • by Sczi ( 1030288 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:35AM (#39147839)

    I have, and if you haven't, then I dare you to take one. Bring snacks and a helmet.

    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.

    Everything in moderation, including our excesses.

  • Well for starters, stop calling them "criminals". This "crime" exists only in the law. It has no victim. In fact, the law has victims, the users.

    The law has driven up the price. Where there were once a few addicts who popped pills, or smoked some opium, we now have IV drug users. Where the worst people used to be was a bit lazy and checked out, we now have desperate people commiting petty crimes to get by. This is the result of the prohibition not the drug.

    The evidence keeps mounting that prohibition is the cause of the real issues. Yet, the drug users are still the criminals, and not the politicians and cops who created this situation. Some areas report 50% of burn victims are the result of meth labs. Meth labs that exist only because of prohibition. 50% of burn victims are victims of prohibition. How many of those thousands of people would still have ended up there? 1 or 2? If that!

    The majority of the problem is the situation. Blaming people for playing the game as it is set up for them is ridiculous. The law created the situation, the blame resides in only one place...bad policy making.

  • by Pennidren ( 1211474 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:43AM (#39147953)
    Instead of attacking the heroine aspect, examine this from a more objective stance. What is your (society-perceived) vice and who has the right to take it away from you?

    Imagine a day where insurance companies can deny you coverage because you haven't had the "cigarette/alcohol/fatty-foods vaccine".
  • by gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @02:11PM (#39150143) Homepage Journal

    Spend that money on nicotine gum/patches so you'll live to see your daughter grow up.

    Older generations didn't really have good options for quitting smokes (besides cold turkey). We do. Use them.

  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @02:31PM (#39150441)

    Addicts do get off opiates and stay off for extended periods of time, although it is difficult and there is a constant risk of relapse. Withdrawal symptoms go away after a fairly short time, but the craving generally comes back from time to time, and can be triggered by "reminders" of drug use. So a vaccine that made it harder to "fall off the wagon" in response to an attack of craving would likely be helpful to abstinent addicts.

  • I think you are asking entirely the wrong questions. No, legality doesn't directly matter to the addict. However, it matters to the supply chain that brings him his drugs. Legality is why heroin and OCs are available, and opium and codine are not. Many addicts would choose safer drugs and other routes of administration if they had the option.

    Even the swiss heroin study shows addicts can hold down jobs if the heroin is provided to them at a price similar to what we would expect it to be on an open market. They didn't even explore the real situation that would develop if not for prohibition.

    Wouldn't it be better if he never picked up a needle? What about the 50% of burn victims who are there because of incompetent meth production? Wouldn't their lives be better if they could have bought a bottle of pills at a reasonable price?

    Addiction is a problem, but its a problem magnified by prohibition. How much faster could addiction be dealt with without stigma? If a person could say to his doctor or family "yah Ive been taking alot of this lately". Alcoholism is bad enough but at least people can admit to it and talk about it.

    Would his life have been improved by jail time? Maybe getting HIV sharing needles in jail? Sharing needles, another great tradition caused by prohibition. First driving up the prices until people turn to IV use because high strength product is all their dealers will supply and they can afford... then making needles unavailable or dangerous by labeling them as paraphenelia...leading to more time in jail.

    Yes.... addiction is bad, its terrible.... but prohibition makes in unmanageable and life destroying.

    I want to save lives. None of those meth cooks needed to burn. Nobody needed to be murdered in turf wars. Nobody needed to be denied finanacial aid for college over a few joints. This is atrocity that makes a bad situation worst.

    Ask yourself this...if your son didn't have a supportive family, where would he be now? Would his life be made better by going to jail? Lot of people in those situations. Not everyone is middle class and has the support network to recover. They are the ones who really get ground up in this system. Not the middle class kids with strong families who get spared from the real horrors.

A sine curve goes off to infinity, or at least the end of the blackboard. -- Prof. Steiner