New study trialling pill for meth addicts steered by Curtin University researchers

New study trialling pill for meth addicts steered by Curtin University researchers

A PILL to get methamphetamine addicts off their habit will be trialled in eastern Australia by Curtin University researchers.

The two-year N-ICE trial in Wollongong, Geelong and Melbourne is being led by the Curtin University National Drug Research Institute in Western Australia.

Researchers want to know if n-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, can help crystal meth addicts quit.

Lead researcher and NDRI Associate Professor Rebecca McKetin said previous studies showed NAC could reduce cravings for methamphetamine use and other substances including cocaine, cannabis and tobacco.

“When someone first takes ice they experience the desirable effects of intoxication. But if they continue to use, and become dependent, changes occur in the brain that cause cravings, making it hard to stop using ice,” she said.

“NAC helps to reduce cravings by restoring the balance of chemicals in the brain that are involved in craving and drug seeking, making it easier for people to manage their desire for the drug.

Associate Professor Peter Kelly from the University of Wollongong, who is affiliated with the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, said there was currently no approved medication to treat addiction to ice and this was a significant barrier to users seeking treatment.

“The main forms of treatment are counselling interventions and residential rehabilitation. For this reason trialling NAC introduces a novel approach to treating ice addiction,” he said.

Dr Brendan Quinn from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne said many people who use ice do not access these traditional treatment options.

“Over-stretched services with wait lists, the need for lengthy residential stays, stigma and fears about confidentiality are among the reasons people don’t get treatment,” Dr Quinn said.

“We are hoping this take-home medication can help people who aren’t accessing these conventional drug treatment options to reduce or stop their ice use.”

The trial is being funded by the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council.