If You Could Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs, Would You?

from the just-say-no dept

Researchers are working on a cocaine vaccine that uses the immune system to attack cocaine molecules, rendering them ineffective. The vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials, could be a boon to recovering cocaine addicts — approximately half of which relapse within a year of detoxification. With the vaccine, the biochemical pathways through which cocaine works are blocked, so, taking cocaine does not come with an associated high so addicts do not become re-addicted. Of course, the vaccine is in no way meant as a replacement for drug treatment, since it does nothing to treat the underlying psychological factors of the addiction. It is not mentioned if the vaccine can be used before addiction occurs — or even before cocaine is ever taken. Granted, the current trials do not include that use, nor do they include children, but, if it were available, would parents flock to their doctors and have their kids vaccinated? And, what other maladies could be treated in such a manner? Reports from the 1900s indicate attempts to create an alcohol vaccine. More recently, Celtic Pharma’s nicotine vaccine works on a similar mechanism to the cocaine vaccine, but for nicotine. Sure, you’d be hard pressed to find detractors against a cocaine vaccine, but if a nicotine vaccine became available would the tobacco lobby be worried?

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Comments on “If You Could Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs, Would You?”

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Safety Dancer says:


Most people who become addicted to anything, not just drugs, tend to have addictive personalities. I am not taking away from the proven fact that drugs are highly addictive, but just stopping the physical effects is not going to work in most cases. Now if you have a kid thats never before tried drugs, then you have a pretty good chance he/she is not gonna get addicted, but if you have a 5yr crack veteran then hes gonna be so psychologically addicted that no vaccines would work. I know Dennis Yang stated that, I am just reiterating and strengthening the point. As for giving it to my children? In a heartbeat, and don’t give me that “they have the right to choose” or “your invading on their personal rights” because cocaine is ILLEGAL and they do not have the right to take it anyway with or without the vaccine. But this coupled with some serious therapy would be very effective, but this is not the end all, one shot ‘kill’ so to speak, but its most certainly a huge help.

fuzzix says:

Re: Reguardless

Safety Dancer, the law is not the arbiter of morality and both law and morality change as we learn more about our own species – no amount of upper case changes that.

I’m no fan of cocaine or its users (If I wanted to hang around with irritating game-show hosts I’d move in those circles) but if we don’t make our own mistakes then our learning stagnates then so does everything else. Yes, this does amount to “We need cocaine users”. No amount of bullshit talk during my schooldays scared me off any activity. First time I saw a junkie I thought “OK, maybe this heroin thing is a bit iffy”. If I hadn’t encountered any junkies I might be at the heroin stage of my lifetime’s experimentation right now…

So, your kid’s vaccinated against cocaine use… let’s hope they’ve developed similar products around heroin, barbiturates, horse tranquilisers, super glue, gambling, fried eggs, credit cards and all the other fun little vices we’ve come up with to pass the time.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: Reguardless

A Clockwork Orange anyone? If you don’t get the reference, A Clockwork Orange means someone who is stuck in a state where they are unable to make choices between right and wrong on their own.

I personally am all for the legalization of all drugs but I have this issue with freedom and the government prying into our private lives. Yes, I know someone’s gonna chime in and say that this is the most irresponsible idea yet, in that case then I can just as easily take the opposite and totalitarian approach and say we should ban EVERY mind/body altering drug cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, chocolate… It becomes funny when people try to get me to take caffeine and chocolate off the list cause they don’t think those are “real” drugs..

Kevin says:

Re: Reguardless

As for giving it to my children? In a heartbeat, and don’t give me that “they have the right to choose” or “your invading on their personal rights” because cocaine is ILLEGAL and they do not have the right to take it anyway with or without the vaccine.

For now, anyways. Not that I believe that cocaine will ever be legal again (it was at one point), but I think that you have to be careful when saying that you can make permanent and irreversible changes based on the current legal status of something.

Guy says:

Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs?

What a scary thought. Not something I would be in favour of. Nobody wants their kids to take drugs, but would you really want to deprive them of free will? Sometimes it needs to be up to the individual to make their own mistakes.
Plus, as soon as you vaccinate against one, they’ll find something they haven’t been ‘protected’ against.

G says:

Re: Re: Re: Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs?

I agree. It’s obvious that doing drugs is an act of free-will but so is killing another human. Some things that fall under the free-will umbrella just should not be allowed or should be punished. Cocaine addiction is a seriously detriment to society. I don’t know how anyone could disagree with that.

I would never want this drug-blocker taken any child or adult unless it was for recovery treatment in conjunction with current psychological treatments.

Sean says:

Re: Re: Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs?

If they take it and do not get high and then take more since they do not feel it would be more likely for them to easily overdose and die. Not getting high will not change how much it will take to OD just prevent the symptoms that a persons body gives them to let them know its working. Just like drinking alcohol your body will let you know that you have had enough by getting the person drunk.

Dr. Spin (user link) says:

Re: Re: Vaccinate Your Kids Against Drugs?

Is Vaccinee a word?

If it were, would you want to be one?

And taking a drug is not an act of free will? People take drugs attempting to create an effect. People watch TV attempting to create effects as well (usually to fall asleep) but may find them selves in a terrible addiction.

Maybe we should Vaccinate people at birth so they can’t see, then they won’t be susceptible to garbage media on TV and the related health problems, brainwashing, emotional, developmental or economical problems that lead to strain on society and the economy, right?

That’s what the drug war is all about – money. That’s also what pharmaceuticals are all about. With this it’s a win lose lose situation.

Drug Companies = win!
“Vaccinee’s” = scarred for life with unknown side-effects
Economy = Well the goverment will subsidize it, everybody wins!

Sean says:

I would never give it to my children unless they were doing cocaine. I’m sure the vaccine would need need to be given repeatedly to keep it working and if not what are they long term effects and how will it react with other drugs that are prescribed and new ones that come to market. I work in the health care industry and am a big supporter of NOT over prescribing drugs and give things that are not necessary.

Sean says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually I do there is four types of vacines.

Vaccines containing killed microorganisms.
Vaccines containing live, attentuated microorganisms.
Toxoids – these are inactivated toxic compounds

This one would be the toxoid type the same as tetanus vaccine and that is recommended to be given at least every 10 years.

“Results from both studies showed that the maximum mean antibody response occurred between 70 and 90 days post vaccination with specific cocaine antibodies persisting for at least six months. Eight subjects also received a booster 15-18 months post vaccination with TA-CD, all of whom showed increased levels of antibodies two to four weeks later.” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9529.php

So this shows that it will need to be readministered to keep up the effectiveness.

Greg (user link) says:

Would you kindly not use cocaine?

This isn’t going to do much unless either a) it’s combined with other treatment – Oh, cocaine doesn’t get me high anymore? Guess I’ll start using heroin – to treat the underlying issues, or b) it’s used at a pre-addictive treatment, or even without the person’s knowledge. You’d pretty much try cocaine, not get anything out of it, and probably never try it again.

That said, it could be a HUGE boon for treatment programs – taking away someone’s physical motivation to get high is a big improvement. If it helps with the withdrawl, it would even better .

citydan (user link) says:

Good Parenting

Hey Safety Dancer, perhaps you’d better gouge your children’s eyes out as well so they never get addicted to video games or online poker. And don’t forget to have their mouths sewn shut so they don’t develop any poor eating or drinking habits.

And heaven forbid your children should ever be tempted to try sex…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Good Parenting

And heaven forbid your children should ever be tempted to try sex…

That great proponent of child sexual mutilation (circumcision) Dr. Kellog (of Kellog Cereal fame) had a solution for that. He suggested that parents postpone circumcision until the child reached puberty or was caught masturbating. The circumcision was then to be performed without anesthesia in order to teach the child a “lesson” about sex.

boost says:

Just a few additions...

First off, what ever happened to good old parenting and education? I knew what drugs were when I was a kid…I never tried any. It wasn’t like my friends weren’t doing it, either. I just didn’t want to, so I didn’t. I had parents that taught me about what could happen and a school that did the same.

I think that kids should be taught about this stuff. Some of them are going to do stuff that they know they shouldn’t, but that’s part of growing up and learning. Too many people want to the easy solution these days. Kid’s on drugs? Well, give them more drugs so that they don’t like them anymore, instead of getting down to the real issues that are driving the kids to use them.

What are the downsides to this drug? What about when an addict has been given this drug, then takes cocaine, but doesn’t get high so he starts taking more and more in order to get high…will he still overdose and die?

Where’s the Soma here? We need more people working harder in order to affect the root cause of problems instead of just treating the symptoms.

Lisa says:

I agree with comments made regarding this possible vaccine and its interaction with other drugs. It is not wise to dump a massive amount of substance into our biological arena unless we absolutely need to. You cannot predict how it will interact with other drugs and medications, much less future diseases and their mutations.

Use it for rehabilitation, not prevention.

Moreover, questions of free will aside –

I think the individual who “feels” they themselves made the conscious decision to abstain from a drug enjoys an idea of fortitude in himself that one who abstains as a result of a vaccine would not. “Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues.” – Locke

Phillip says:

Vaccine's are already used for lots of things

You guys are arguing that you can’t do this because it takes away free will, but what about polio hepatitis or any of the other things you’re vaccinated against. You don’t have a say in them but they prevent you from being hurt by those and spreading them to others this does the same thing. So if you’re going to say you can’t use this to vaccinate the kids because it will deprive them of free will, you’d better be against polio and hepatitis vaccinations as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Vaccine's are already used for lots of thi

and addiction isn’t an illness?? How is becoming addicted to something free will? You can not choose to quit or not do it if you’re addicted.

Also, you’re making them immune to a bad effect without their consent. That is hardly the same as vaccinating them for water, which isn’t possible nor harmful. You’re not taking away their free will, if anything you’re enabling it. If they can’t become addicted or high they can take it if they want and they can easily stop taking it as they are not at all addicted to the substance.

m74k3H says:

I don't think so

Interesting. I don’t think I would apply such a vaccine to either of my sons. The free will aspect would be a concern (I agree that it doesn’t prevent someone from taking the drug, but it does remove the “benefits”, thus possibly affecting free decision making), but I would be concern about what other effects such a vaccine might have.

Since this is still in early development, would it be possible that it blocks the effect of a narcotic drug to remove pain? Or possible another drug with similar chemical structure intended to cure an ailment? Or even the effects of exercise that act as a stimulant in the brain?

I would reserve its use for someone who was a serious addict at this point, who could possibly die without this help.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cocaine causes the brain to produce dopamine, a chemical that makes ou feel good. Something like this would end up blocking other things that make you feel good one way or another. Then people will be depressed so we’ll have to give them ant-depressants. Then the drugs will break down the liver, causing other issues and other drugs to be prescribed. There is no way in hell I’d give this to a kid there is going to be side effects that won’t show up for years and by then it will be too late.

Willpower says:

Would I experiment on my children with a new vaccine like that as a preventive measure, before I even know if they need it? Not a chance!

Other vaccines have enough problems already, potentially even causing Autism in some cases. I would hate to think what new problems could show up down the road from a cocaine vaccine.

I don’t take any drugs now, but I grew up in the 60’s. Most of the teenagers took drugs. I tried cocaine and I didn’t become addicted. My friends didn’t become addicted. Only a very small % of people would let themselves become addicted with the extremely severe down side to it.

I would consider it for a recovering addict, but not for the very unlikely chance that my children might have a problem with it.

Jason M Vale says:

Just another way for these companies to make more

It is ridiculous to think that a vaccine is going to solve drug problems. For every vaccine that is made, there will be 2 more new drugs created that don’t have vaccines. This would also lead to an endless stream of money for the drug companies so they can continue to make vaccines.
Once again, people think that rather than treating the source of the problem, the person’s behavior, they believe shooting up our bodies with more drugs is the answer.

johnwayne says:


Lets take out the reason not to teach our children about drugs. Lets vaccinate for everything and we will all be safe! When will people get that creating and maintaining a relationship with our children is the best defense against drugs or other vile things? Next thing you know there will be a vaccination for premarital sex! Get a life Corporate America!

Old_Paranoid says:

on vaccination against drugs

I don’t think many of the authors of comments here have children in appropriate age groups so their responses are more theoretical / ideological.

I have raised 2 kids to adulthood, one a practicing Mormon, and the other a light social drinker, and I have 2 you ones still to raise.

I would not give such vaccines as general preventative measures, as that exposes them to the risks of the vaccine without evidence of need. But if they showed signs of difficulty and failed a drug test, my wife and I would have them vaccinated immediately as long as the vaccine was not clearly hazardous.

It is our responsibility to raise them until they are adults and provide guidance and oversight until they are fully responsible. And yes, this does mean that we do make decisions for them, fewer as they get older, but decisions none the less. That is a parent’s thankless job – you may get the thanks decades later.

Ty says:

Is Coke that bad?

OK, not wanting to get flamed, and maybe this is not a popular stance… But is Coke that bad. I know I have used it, a lot of people have and I suspect the addiction rate is quite low, although true drug info is hard to find in a reliable source. I did a search and found it made up 14 % of the 1.6 million admissions in 1999 to publicly funded drug addiction facilities… So that I guess would mean its highly addictive, however that was pulled of a Anti Drug site, so the numbers ay have been skewed (hehe Yes they due that IE including Crack statistics, or leaving out Alcohol stats as that is legal). Yet I know a lot of people that have done Coke on a few occasions without the addiction effects. Anyway, In the end I have no idea what I am talking about so if you are recovering from a terrible addiction like cocaine, please note I am just thinking out loud and ignore me or feel free to correct me.

BobbKnight says:


Just remember 95% of drug laws in the USA have been created to control a racial group, with the exception of the ban on LSD.
That said the medical uses for most drugs would make me not want to prevent any child of mine from reaping the benefits of their administration.
I would not be opposed to an anti drug vaccines use along with treatment, for the addict.

Hell Yes It is a Good Idea ! says:

The Cause of addictive behavior is addiction. Period.

Who cares if you have an “addictive” personality or not. Most alcoholics I know, and cocain addicts for that matter, whould be HAPPY to exchange an addiction for say…sex…or kayaking…for the trials and pain of addictive drugs.

I am all for it ! Prior to crack comming along in the 80’2 did all the crack addicts lack “free will” and only obtain the “free will” once crack was a available. I think not.

Most of these arguments are circler and wrong headed. The cause of addictive behavior is addiction. Remove the addiction and you remove the addictive behavior.

Lucretious (profile) says:

Having been a hardcore addict for close to 20 years myself my initial reaction would be to do it without a second thought, particularly because my family has an abysmal record when it comes to alcohol/drug addiction going back generations. Having said that I don’t like the idea of preventing choices (no matter how ill conceived) to any healthy normal adult who should make such a decision on their own.

Matthew (user link) says:

Not truly a vaccine

I say this not to be pedantic, but because the word vaccine has fairly innocuous connotations to most people. A vaccine trains your immune system to better/more quickly recognise various organisms as dangerous and perform the task they would do on their own faster or more aggressively. While a chance for side effects still exists it is small compared to the risk of death from certain communicable diseases.

Training the immune system to detect and react to molecules like cocaine and nicotine is making the body perform functions it would not naturally perform which has its own enhanced set of risks, namely that the molecules marker site may be non-discriminatory, causing false positives by the immune system. This could cause prolonged cold like symptoms if the falsely categorised molecule is prevenlant, or could impact the effectiveness of unintended compounds. If the cocaine vaccine also had an impact on novacaine, or morphine, surgical recovery or paliative care could become traumatic.

Almost all of us would have had tetanus vaccines, so this type of vaccination is not a completely dangerous process, however it needs to be matched to the risk of no vaccination. The chance of a scratch from rusty metal at some point is very high, and the chance of lockjaw without a tetanus shot in that case is extreme. That coupled with the huge amount of experience with the vaccine makes a systematic use a good idea.

For a cocaine vaccine, given that about 1% of people will try cocaine and about 10% of them will become addicted, the risks are not there to justify systematic vaccination. It would be an invaluable tool to prevent recidivism of past addicts though.

Pseudonyma (profile) says:


What you’re asking is: Would I give my child a medical procedure which they almost certainly won’t need for a condition that’s easily avoidable?

Duh, of course not! My child isn’t getting a smallpox vaccination, or having her appendix removed preemptively, either, and for the same reason.

No vaccine is without side effects in al people (though autism is definitely not one of them). Some people even have bad reactions to Sabin vaccine (which is the safest vaccine there is).

Coaster says:

I don’t see how this would block the negative effects without blocking the positive effects. Would this vaccine also render medical uses ineffective? What about Xylocaine at the dentist? Who’s up for oral surgery with no pain blockers?

What if this were given to someone who was a recovering addict, and they were in a car accident or somthing, and had to go to the ER, and they tried to numb the area with Lidocaine so they could work in it…wouldn’t this render the Lidocaine useless as well? Would people have to carry a medic alert tag that states they are no longer succeptable to these?

It’s a nice idea if it helps addicts get over their addiction, but long term effects need to be taken into account. So I guess my answer would be No, I wouldn’t give this to my kids, it’s too new and hasn’t been tested enough to suit me. Oh, and the fact that I believe knowledge is the best form of prevention.

niftyswell says:

if it was cheap

a 5 buck shot that made it so they would never be chained to such a hard to break addiction would be fine. If my parents had me vaccinated then that would have been fine, as well. Who knows what bend in life might lead someone to be weak and try that crap…then get hooked…then sell everything they and the people they love have to get their fix of crack or powder? Sure they might turn to something else, but what if they dont? Then you have removed another obstacle in their life…maybe saved a marriage or a life in the process. My kids dont have free will unless I tell them they do, until then they wear their seatbelt, clean their rooms, and take their crack vaccine. They are free to find a vaccine to reverse the effects so they can ruin their lives when they move out.

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