New medication to help people dependent on crystal methamphetamine ‘ice’

The N-ICE trial was rolled out in July 2018 at frontline clinical services in Wollongong, Geelong and Melbourne.

Associate Professor Peter Kelly from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and the University of Wollongong (UOW), says there is currently no approved medication to treat addiction to ice and it remains a significant barrier to users seeking treatment.

“The study into N-Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, to reduce cravings for methamphetamine is ongoing. We are currently looking for people in the Illawarra who might want to participate in the study,” said Associate Professor Peter Kelly.

NAC is one of a new generation of medications being trialled for addiction. It targets glutamate changes in the brain that are thought to underpin drug craving and addiction.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University is leading the randomised controlled N-ICE trial in collaboration with Deakin University, Monash University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Newcastle, La Trobe University and the Burnet Institute.

More than 180 people expressed interest in the Wollongong trial when it was announced last year.

“We were really pleased with the response to the trial thus far. Across Australia we have recruited over 90 people, with about 30 of those within the Illawarra. We will be continuing to recruit people until the end of the year. If people are interested in being involved in the study we would really encourage them to visit our website or to call our research team,” said Associate Professor Peter Kelly.

Recruitment for the trial is expected to remain open until the end of 2019.

People living within the Illlawarra can contact Tamsin to find out more about the study: 0401 604 496.

Further information on the trial can also be found here:

Methamphetamine use in Australia

  • In the last decade there has been a three-fold increase in regular and dependent methamphetamine use in Australia;
  • There has been a shift towards use of the more potent crystalline form of methamphetamine (‘ice’);
  • Calls to amphetamine related helpline centres, drug treatment episodes and related hospital admissions have increased steeply since 2010;
  • Methamphetamine dependence is estimated to cost Australia around $5 billion per year.

Related stories

World-first trial of medication for ‘ice’ addiction

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


Top photo: Associate Professor Peter Kelly.

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