In a country where opiate addiction has ravaged homes and destroyed families, many people affected by addiction lose hope. They see family members continue to use and hurt themselves. People who do not understand addiction can not fathom the complexity that is involved for someone to stop using and to get clean. Addiction is not as simple as just stopping. The damage that opiates do to the brain change the way the brain functions. Chemicals are depleted while others are raised which leads to an imbalance that greatly affects the way the person feels, act and how their body functions. These changes to the brain create enormous cravings for the drugs and when the drug is not administered it is followed by intense physical withdrawals. The physical withdrawals feel like the flu times a hundred, which keeps addicts using.
Most addicts agree that the physical withdrawals are not as bad as the mental withdrawal. For many opiate addicts in recovery, they face P.A.W.S. This is short for post acute withdrawal syndrome. P.A.W.S. happens when someone uses opiates for a prolonged period of time. The affects that opiates have on the brain cause depression, mood swings, insomnia and lack of energy. These P.A.W.S. sufferers live an anxiety filled life. Everything seems difficult, even the simplest of tasks. This feeling day in and day out can sometimes becomes too much to handle and a relapse occurs. Relapse is a very normal occurrence in recovery. The key is to not get discouraged because of the relapse. You have to pick yourself back up immediately and get back on track and figure out where you went wrong and try to not let that happen again.
With drug overdoses becoming the number one in the "accidental death" category, many researchers are trying to find new ways to help curb this growing epidemic. A vaccine developed by doctors at Scripps Institute in La Jolla, specifically Dr. Kim Janda and Dr. George Koob may have discovered a groundbreaking and life saving drug. This vaccine likely has the ability to confront the roots of the issue by blocking the heroin dosage from initially happening. Through laboratory rat testing, this vaccine has proven to be able to expand heroin molecules in the body to the point where they cannot penetrate through the blood-brain barrier and passes through the urine instead. The laboratory rats that were addicted to heroin, ceased craving the drug after being vaccinated. In fact, huge amounts of heroin could be administered to the rats without killing them. In essence, the vaccine would be nullifying the detrimental effects of heroin because drug content would never enter the brain.
The only thing that is keeping this amazing vaccine a reality for human trials is a lack of funding. If our country would open it's eyes and make the opiate epidemic a major issue, we could raise the funds and get this drug developed. Think of the thousands of lives this vaccine would save and prevent people from ever using the drug in the first place. This could be the start to solving the opiate epidemic.