New Approaches to Drug Addiction Therapy

Drug and alcohol addiction costs the United States more than $100 billion a year. Neither law enforcement nor therapy has been able to adequately combat this problem, so it continues to grow. Some researchers are taking a new approach: Instead of looking at addiction as lack of self-control or escape, why not see it as a chronic, reoccurring disease? Research substantiates that there are fundamental biological processes at work in the brain of a drug user. Long-term changes occur there, predisp

Nadia Halim
Sep 26, 1999

Drug and alcohol addiction costs the United States more than $100 billion a year. Neither law enforcement nor therapy has been able to adequately combat this problem, so it continues to grow. Some researchers are taking a new approach: Instead of looking at addiction as lack of self-control or escape, why not see it as a chronic, reoccurring disease? Research substantiates that there are fundamental biological processes at work in the brain of a drug user. Long-term changes occur there, predisposing the addict to drug cravings and relapses. Medications may offer the means for drug addicts to not only kick the habit, but also stay clean.1

Adaptedfrom figure by K. Janda

Monoclonal antibodies prevent cocaine from crossing the blood-brain barrier, thereby blocking the stimulant effects induced by the drug. This may prove useful in treating long-term addicts who are prone to relapse. This type of vaccination may be effective...