By Steps to Recovery on November 11, 2012

Cocaine vaccinations, methamphetamine vaccinations, even a nicotine vaccination. All of this in the name of recovery. It’s a novel idea, but is it time and money spent in vain? Does something like this actually detract from the value of the hard work of recovery? Isn’t there something extremely valuable to be learned from working hard to defeat the urge to use and learning to cope with the cravings? How about the deeper work of addressing why the person is using in the first place.. There is no such thing as a simple solution to a complex problem…Or set of problems.

Addiction is a symptom of something deeper, and recovery isn’t about the specific drug, its about the disease of addiction and what’s causing it. No matter what, this disease and it’s cause needs to be addressed for recovery to be successful. People who are addicts are addicts, and what they are addicted to is secondary. What’s more important than the addiction is the underlying “why?” Why is this person addicted? What brought them to begin using drugs? What is really happening at the core of the whole situation?

People self medicate to avoid pain, to feel pleasure, for a number of reasons. This desire comes from a lack of something the individual needs or a bunch of something they don’t. For successful long term recovery, the person has to find the root cause and work on THAT as a priority. Simply taking away the drug doesn’t solve the root problem. The entire experience is so much more powerful when we experience it in full, and find the strength to push through despite the hardships and cravings of detox.

And then there is the question of replacing one drug with another. If an addiction is a brain disorder, without the experience of actually healing oneself from addiction, what are the odds that a person might just shift from one substance to another? If we just rely on a vaccination to fix our problem, do we simply move on to some other destructive substance or behavior when the going gets tough? Do we need a vaccination against any substance we can use to numb ourselves from whatever our deeper issue is?

I believe a vaccination against drugs is simply counterproductive to recovery. Experiencing the full scale of the work you are doing to become clean and sober is such a rich experience, one which every recovering addict deserves, and owes themselves. Being in the thick of it and coming through on the other side is one of the most valuable experiences I can think of, one of the most rewarding things I have personally ever experienced, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

What do you think about vaccinating addicts against drugs?