Scientists Are Close to a New Vaccine, For Alcoholism

Although there are many different facets to curing alcohol addiction, solving the chemical aspect could be the first step toward recovery for some.

Treating alcohol addiction with medicine is not a new idea. Almost a century ago the medication Disulfiram was created to help in the treatment of alcoholism; it is a pill that once ingested gives a person severe hangover-like symptom almost immediately after taking a drink. According to WebMD,

The drug changes the way your body breaks down alcohol. If you drink alcohol while you are taking disulfiram, you will experience uncomfortable symptoms, including severe nausea, vomiting, and headache.

It would seem to be a relatively easy solution for someone struggling with addiction right? Unfortunately, the side effects are so intense that most patients stop taking it after a short time, rendering it useless. That may not be a problem for too much longer though. The Daily Mail reports that Scientists from the University of Chile may have discovered a solution, in the form of a vaccine that once administered could last anywhere from 6 months to a year.

The vaccine, which was developed to help combat the growing problem of alcoholism in Chile, keeps the liver from expressing the enzymes that break down alcohol in a person’s blood stream. They are so close in fact; researchers are hoping to be through the preclinical phase in time to start clinical testing on humans as early as November.

Although not a cure-all, the vaccine could be a good first step for many addicts who are trying to get sober. Dr. Juan Asenjo, director of the university’s Institute for Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology told the Santiago Times,

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 … But if we can solve the chemical, the basic part of the problem, I think it could help quite a bit.

The researchers believe this new drug has the potential to affect millions of lives across the globe who are struggling with addiction.

Do you think vaccinating someone to have a physical aversion to alcohol will help reduce rates of alcoholism?

Feature photo: Imagens Evangélicas/Flickr

Photo: Andres Rueda/Flickr

About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. @zak Waldrop: If you really want to stop drinking, You must ask for help or simply get into Addiction recovery. You may see this one

  2. Zak Waldrop says:

    Hello can you give some advices to me I’m 25 and wanted to stop my alcohol addiction. Recently I was fired because I failed the medical examination.

    p.s I really need It thank u

  3. The biochemistry is, as stated, just one aspect of alcohol addiction. When alcohol is introduced into the alcoholic’s body, that person has an abnormal or allergic reaction. The symptom of that reaction is craving. Presumably this “vaccine” would inhibit or eliminate that craving. That could be very valuable in the alcoholic in early recovery. It would minimize the consequence of relapse. But minimizing the consequence can also be risky. Why bother continuing recovery efforts if you can just take a drug that prevents craving. Now we have a “normal” drinker. For an alcoholic, alcohol use is a symptom of a problem. In fact alcohol has been the solution to their problem. The problem is with living. Living with, facing, getting through, growing, learning to cope, with life. Sometimes stated as “living life on life’s terms.” We take the vaccine, no longer deal with craving, but still have no way of dealing with life. In AA we call this a dry drunk. That is what the 12 steps of AA are all about. Cleaning up the mess of life, and basically, growing up. Or learning how to “live life on life’s terms.” There are other disciplines for this, I’m just familiar with AA’s process.

  4. There are so many other drugs out there…….So I don’t see it having a huge an effect. Legalizing weed would offer a less dangerous form of dealing with the same underlying issues. Alcohol does have the highest Kill rate of all the recreational drugs to date. Probably more that all the other illegal ones combined.

  5. Cute, but a drug is a drug- people with a predisposition to getting high will get high with something else….
    DUIs, fights, accidents …. don’t stop drunks from drinking & a whole lot of people became tolerant of Antabuse.

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