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Am J Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;164(7):1115-7.

Is cocaine desire reduced by N-acetylcysteine?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



Animal models suggest that N-acetylcysteine inhibits cocaine-seeking. The present pilot study evaluated whether N-acetylcysteine would suppress reactivity to cocaine-related cues in cocaine-dependent humans.


In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 15 participants received N-acetylcysteine or placebo during a 3-day hospitalization. Participants were crossed over to receive the opposite condition on a second, identical 3-day stay occurring 4 days later. During each hospital stay, participants completed a cue-reactivity procedure that involved collecting psychophysical and subjective data in response to slides depicting cocaine and cocaine use.


While taking N-acetylcysteine, participants reported less desire to use and less interest in response to cocaine slides and watched cocaine slides for less time.


The inhibition of cocaine cue reactivity is consistent with existing preclinical data and supports the use of N-acetylcysteine as a treatment for cocaine dependence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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