A Shot to End Addiction

All that money that went into researching whether or not I would buy a magazine standing at the checkout line in Walgreens was money well spent. For Walgreens. Not so much for me. I ended up spending more money on the current issue of Psychology Today. Why would a counseling pastor spend a couple bucks on PT? Because I used to subscribe to it at the office and it makes me think about how I counsel people. And I was not disappointed in this issue. Tarah Knaresboro brought an issue to my mind that I wondered how the Biblical Counseling community would handle. The article is the title of this post, “A Shot to End Addiction“. I wish this article was available online because it would make it so much easier to discuss.

The premise of the article is simply that “…someday, vaccines may deploy the immune system to fight substance abuse…” A summary, if I can do it justice, is that researchers are working on developing a vaccine that don’t block the drug’s interaction with the body (such as methadone), but a vaccine that attacks the drug like the body would attack influenza.

…hooking up an addictive substance with a foreign protein that acts as an immune stimulus, and then turning it into a vaccine, may be a promising way to outsmart the system. The resulting anti-body response clears the drug from the system before much of it reaches the brain…

The desired goal then would be that the next time the drug enters the system, the body “remembers” it and attempts to destroy much of it before it can “benefit” the user. Ideally the resulting “high” would be much weaker than before and may actually lead to a decrease in using and abusing drugs; perhaps even allowing the addict to become clean altogether.

Ms. Knarasboro reveals that Daryl Shorter, who is a psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine, is researching a cocaine vaccine and believes that these type of vaccines are on the immediate horizon: 15-20 years down the road. How could they be used in the future?

They might be used to kick-start rehab or to prevent relapse in those who’ve overcome addiction. One day, drug vaccines might even be used preventively in children...

My thoughts: In the biblical counseling community which on one side is very hesitant, if not adamant, to recognize the use of medications to treat behavior, this introduction of a vaccine will prayerfully cause some thoughtful consideration. Would the biblical counseling community agree to work hand in hand with a physician and their counselee to give them an additional tool to battle their physical craving? What would be the pros and cons of the development of this vaccine? Would the use of this vaccine violate any principle within Scripture?

In my own struggles with chemical dependence I find the need to constantly remind myself that my Savior is not a pill, not a drug. It is very tempting to look to a chemical reaction within ourselves to ease us out of present day circumstances. If I recognize, and demonstrate, that I find my sufficiency in Christ – and yet need assistance in the war of physical dependence, would a vaccine be acceptable “biblically”?

Right now I am finding more questions than answers and I hope that the biblical counseling community looks proactively to the future and thinks about how to best advise their counselees in their personal war on drugs.

Chance to Interact: Would you advise a counselee to use a vaccine to assist them physically while you counseled them spiritually? Why or why not?

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