Crystal meth has been the subject of much debate over the last twenty years, and considering the rise in methamphetamine abuse in that span, that such a discourse has raged for so long is of little surprise. Because methamphetamine drug abuse is so prevalent – “In the United States alone there are said to be more than 400,000 current users” and, in many places, “meth accounts for more primary drug abuse treatment admissions than any other drug.” – numerous steps have been taken by governing bodies and private institutions alike to try to curb crystal meth use and, in effect, “wean” society off of its growing crystal meth addiction.
The irony is that for all this attention and all this large-scale movement, the latest product of the struggle against crystal meth addiction works at the most microscopic of levels.
Toppling Crystal Meth Addiction with a Pinprick
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for some time now been experimenting with drugs meant to inhibit crystal meth’s ability to reach the brain and effect a high, thus doing away with any incentive to abuse the drug. In a significant breakthrough, work done using a particular crystal meth vaccine designated as MH6 proved fruitful as “Tests on rats have shown the vaccine stops them being affected by the drug, which is taken by 25 million people worldwide.”
What this means to the recovery community is, as of yet, unclear.
For one thing, the vaccine does not yet seem to be effective for longer than a few weeks at a time. Ideally, researchers would adjust its makeup to allow for an antibody response to methamphetamine for a much longer period, i.e. months and not weeks. And, of course, there are practical considerations. The vaccine, upon formulation, would have to be optimized for cheap and fast production. All that said, mass production of a crystal meth vaccine may still be years away. However, no victory in the fight against addiction is small, and, in the meantime, our recovery community can continue to lean upon the fellowship created in drug and alcohol addiction treatment until further scientific advances are made.