The NAC for Ice (N-ICE) Trial

A randomised controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as a pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine ('ice') dependence.


In a world first study, the N-ICE Trial will study a much-needed new approach to treating crystal methamphetamine - or “ice” - dependence. The N-ICE Trial will establish if N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) can reduce craving for ice and help people stop using ice. The trial will test the safety and efficacy of NAC as a pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine dependence using a double‐blind placebo‐controlled randomised controlled trial (RCT). The multi-site trial will recruit 150 participants receiving either 12 weeks of oral NAC or placebo.

When someone first takes ice, they experience the seemingly desirable effects from being intoxicated with the drug. Then, as they become addicted, there are changes in the brain that cause cravings and make it hard to stop using it. NAC targets these brain changes that underpin craving and addiction. It helps restore balance to those brain systems, and in doing this, it helps reduce the craving for ice.

Previous studies have shown that NAC can reduce cravings for various drugs, including ice, cocaine, cannabis and tobacco. This trial will find out whether NAC can help people reduce their use of ice and regulate changes in mood. Some of these symptoms are related to the toxic effects of ice on the brain, and NAC has been found to protect the brain from this toxicity. Most importantly, we want to make sure that NAC is safe take-home medication for people who use methamphetamines.

The trial is led by Associate Professor Rebecca McKetin. Co-investigator Associate Professor Olivia Dean discusses the trial here. Recruitment for the N-ICE trial commenced in 2018 and finished in 2020. Detailed study results are available here.

Registration ACTRN12618000366257

Project team

Turning Point team

Professor Dan Lubman, Professor Victoria Manning, Dr Shalini Arunogiri, Mr Ramez Bathish, and Ms Davinia Rizzo.

Project partners

Associate Professor Rebecca McKetin (University of New South Wales), Associate Professor Olivia Dean (Deakin University), Professor Paul Dietze (Burnet Institute), Dr Peter Higgs (La Trobe University), Associate ProfessorPeter Kelly (University of Wollongong), Dr Alyna Turner (Deakin University), Dr Brendan Quinn (Australian Institute of Family Studies), Professor Gregory Carter (University of Newcastle), Professor Michael Berk (Deakin University), Professor Amanda Baker (University of Newcastle); Dr Barbara Sinclair (Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service), Dr David Reid (Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service).

Participating sites

Turning Point, Barwon Health, and Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service.

Learn more about this project


Visit the N-ICE trial website