Supplement to Help Quit Pot

Marijuana cessation may have a new over-the-counter aid

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) A common nutritional supplement might help people who want to quit smoking pot finally be able to. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) taken while also attending brief drug counseling helped people kick the habit.

New research used an amino acid to help teens and young adults quit smoking pot. Results showed that the amino acid was 2.4 times more effective than a placebo.

"Talk to your pharmacist about N-acetylcysteine."

Kevin M. Gray, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Medical University of South Carolina, led a team to research the effectiveness of an over-the-counter supplement in helping teens give up marijuana.

N-acetylcysteine is an amino acid and antioxidant that is clinically used to treat overdoses of acetaminophen and help with bronchial obstructions.

As an over-the-counter dietary supplement, NAC helps with liver function, and is often taken by AIDS and cancer patients.

Research studies point to NAC’s usefulness in clearing toxins from the body.

Dr. Gray and his colleagues decided to try giving NAC to people who use marijuana but want to quit, to see if it would help them. In an eight week trial, 116 volunteers aged 15-21 took either 1200mg of NAC or a placebo twice daily. Everyone also attended brief 10 minute or less counseling sessions once a week.

Each week, the participants took urine tests to detect marijuana usage. Those on NAC were 2.4 times more likely to stop using marijuana than the placebo group.

Four weeks after the trial ended, 19 percent of the NAC treatment group continued to abstain from marijuana compared to 10 percent of the placebo group.

Authors conclude that the usage of NAC in combination with psychosocial treatment was beneficiary for the teens and young adults.

This study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, June 2012. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 19, 2012
Last Updated:
November 12, 2012