A potential role for N-acetylcysteine in the management of methamphetamine dependence
Methamphetamine dependence is a growing problem in Australia and globally. Currently, there are no approved pharmacotherapy options for the management of methamphetamine dependence. N-acetylcysteine is one potential pharmacotherapy option. It has received growing attention as a therapy for managing addictions because of its capacity to restore homeostasis to brain glutamate systems disrupted in addiction and thereby reduce craving and the risk of relapse. N-acetylcysteine also has antioxidant properties that protect against methamphetamine-induced toxicity and it may therefore assist in the management of the neuropsychiatric and neurocognitive effects of methamphetamine. This commentary overviews the actions of N-acetylcysteine and evidence for its efficacy in treating addiction with a particular focus on its potential utility for methamphetamine dependence. The authors conclude that the preliminary evidence indicates a need for full-scale trials to definitively establish whether N-acetylcysteine has a therapeutic benefit and the nature of this benefit, for managing methamphetamine dependence.