Can alcoholism be cured? Scientists in Santiago, Chile, think so, and are slated to start preclinical trials on the world’s first alcoholism vaccine in February. But the idea of an alcoholism vaccine has some wondering: Would society just be swapping one addiction for another?
MSN reports that the alcoholism vaccine has a uniquely psychological lean to it: The shot works by speeding up the hangover process to make you feel like death right after you take even a sip of alcohol. After just one drink, alcoholics would be subjected to splitting headaches and nausea.
The idea is to get alcoholics to associate drinking with miserable side-effects and illness instead of fun, relaxation, or a coping mechanism.
Dr. Juan Asenjo, director of the Institute for Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology at Universidad de Chile, told The Santiago Times that while the alcoholism vaccine isn’t strictly a cure, it is an important first step:
“People who end up alcoholic have a social problem; a personality problem because they’re shy, whatever, and then they are depressed, so it’s not so simple,” Asenjo said. “But if we can solve the chemical, the basic part of the problem, I think it could help quite a bit.”
However, the promise of an alcoholism vaccine has been met with skepticism. An unnamed director of general services at Alcoholics Anonymous in Chile agreed that the injection isn’t a cure-all, and argued that the most important factor to recovery is will (he has been sober for 36 of his 75 years).
“Personally, I hope it works, but it’s not so easy for the person who already has alcoholism,” said the director. “Once you have this problem. You don’t have a solution. You pick up a drink, think you can handle a few, but it’s not possible.”
He also argued that alcoholics have to want to recover, and that an important step int he process is the desire to work hard at sobriety.
“A person needs to confront themselves,” he added.