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Indian J Psychiatry. 2019 May-Jun;61(3):228-231. doi: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_16_19.

Relative effectiveness of N-acetylcysteine and baclofen as anticraving agents in cannabis dependence - A retrospective study with telephonic follow-up.

Author information

1
Centre for Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
2
The BANYAN, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Abstract

Background:

Cannabis dependence is associated with psychiatric, social, and legal consequences. Currently, there is no approved pharmacological treatment for cannabis dependence. Recent studies have reported the utility of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and baclofen (BAC) in the long-term treatment of cannabis dependence, primarily as anticraving agents.

Materials and Methods:

We reviewed the records of all patients who received inpatient treatment during 2015-2017 for cannabis dependence syndrome. We included cases only if cannabis dependence was noted as the primary focus for seeking inpatient care. Data are collected up to 6 months following discharge and analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The time to the first use of cannabis (in days) following discharge is compared between three groups - psychosocial intervention (PSI) only, BAC in addition to PSI, and NAC in addition to PSI.

Results:

During the study period, 238 inpatients were diagnosed with cannabis dependence syndrome. However, cannabis dependence was the primary focus of treatment in only 72 patients. Among these patients, 29 (40.2%) received PSI only while 25 (34.8%) received BAC (mean dose = 55 mg per day, standard deviation [SD] = 2.5 mg) and 18 (25%) received NAC (mean dose = 1800 mg per day, SD = 500 mg) in addition to PSI. While 47 (62.5%) of the patients had comorbid psychiatric disorders, it was comparably distributed in the three groups. A survival analysis shows that the probability of cannabis-free survival is significantly higher in the NAC group as compared to the BAC group which is in turn higher than the PSI group (χ2 = 12.1, P = 0.002).

Conclusion:

The use of anticraving medications, namely BAC and NAC, may be a useful option along with PSIs in patients with cannabis dependence and requires further exploration.

KEYWORDS:

Anticraving; N-acetylcysteine; baclofen; cannabis

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