Most treatment options fail most drug addicts, and the barriers to better treatment are substantial and slow to change, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. Vaccines have potential, many health and addiction experts agree, to be cheaper, safer and possibly more effective in preventing relapse and death than the medical treatments currently available. Money for development of such vaccines is scarce, said Kim Janda, professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who has studied vaccines for drugs of abuse for 25 years. “Billions of dollars are being spent on all kinds of therapeutics or other vaccines, while the cost of drug abuse, as we know, is billions,” Janda said. “There may be money going toward the physicians or facilities (treating addiction), but it’s not going to researchers, no way … The last few years are the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Federal spending on drug-addiction research was $320 million in fiscal 2013, down 20 percent from the inflation adjusted peak of $402 million in 2010. The 2013 funding level was roughly the same as in 2002, adjusted for inflation. The lack of money isn’t the sole reason the treatment system is flawed and access for the everyday American is limited. “This is not the treatment programs’ fault,” said A. Thomas McLellan, a psychologist who has spent his career looking for a better treatment model as former deputy director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy and adviser to governments and nonprofits. “They were set up 40 years ago, when we didn’t know anything about the chronic nature of this disease.” The NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals says that only about 10 percent of U.S. prescription drug and heroin addicts have received any sort of treatment, said McLellan.