Last updated on February 2018

Effect of N-acetylcysteine on Alcohol and Cocaine Use Disorders: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.

Brief description of study

This study evaluates the use of N-acetylcysteine in the treatment of alcohol and cocaine use disorders. Alcohol users will be split in two groups, one will receive the active N-acetylcysteine and the other placebo. The same division will occur with cocaine users. The effects of N-acetylcysteine in adherence, abstinence, psychiatric symptoms and stress biomarkers will be evaluated.

Detailed Study Description

N-acetylcysteine acts replenishing the human body glutathione storages. Glutathione is an important antioxidant agent, and also modulates the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamatergic receptor. Glutamate has been associated with the neuroadaptation related to substance use disorders, and thus it is considered a potential target for pharmacological interventions regarding these disorders. N-acetylcysteine also interacts with the cystine-glutamate antiporter on astrocytes hence increasing glutamate release into the extracellular space.

N-acetylcysteine effects and its implications in the addiction disorders have been studied initially with animal models. Glutamate levels normalization through N-acetylcysteine reduced compulsive drug self-administration and drug-seeking behavior in mice. In addition, there are promising results also with human subjects, showing benefits for cocaine, alcohol and cannabis use disorders.

This study consists of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial with four arms: alcohol users divided into NAC vs Placebo and cocaine users divided into NAC vs Placebo.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03018236

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