I’ve been reading the recent articles on the new cocaine vaccine and was stuck by a comment by Dr. Nora Volkow. Dr. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said “the research exemplifies a transformative perspective on drug addiction. By targeting it (drug addiction) as a medical disease as opposed to a moral dilemma, we’re likely to come up with solutions that have a much longer impact”. This quote made me realize an actual paradigm shift is taking place not only in the way we treat addiction, but how the public perceives this disease. However, to hear that pharmaceutical companies may not be interested in producing this or other “addiction” vaccines is disheartening.
My husband, an addiction medicine physician, and I have talked endlessly about the disease model. He works with impaired professionals who are often enrolled in monitored aftercare programs. When his patients are drug tested, he does so because he wants to know if they are still in remission from their disease. If not, what type of treatment do they need? What will best help them recover? He has been open to trying new drug treatments and has found them very helpful.
Change is often hard and I think it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to treating addiction. If the pharmaceutical companies believe the professional addiction community is going to be supportive of new medication or vaccines, then maybe they will consider producing them.
If there are new advances in medicine that help our clients, that’s wonderful. It doesn’t mean that 12 Step programs and psychotherapy aren’t valuable therapeutic modalities. If the psychotherapists, addiction specialists and the medical field can find a way to dialogue on a regular basis, the research and development of new treatment options will benefit everyone. Is there a way to start a forum of some sort, so those of us on the front lines can communicate better with medical researchers and show our support for new vaccines and medications? If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment.