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Are NAC and Other OTC Vitamins Helpful for Withdrawal Symptoms?

Some supplements and over-the-counter medications are said to be effective in combatting withdrawal symptoms, but they may have different results depending on the substance that is causing your symptoms. 

For example, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is popular for helping teenagers reduce their use of marijuana, as mentioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 

While some vitamins and supplements may support withdrawal, they are no substitute for medical care. It is best to discuss withdrawal symptoms with a doctor. Medical supervision is needed if you are withdrawing from alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. 


Stay hydrated with two to three liters of water per day to make up for what is lost through diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating.

Per Healthline, there are eight B vitamins that allow your body to complete various functions. 

  • Thiamine (B1) allows the body to turn nutrients into energy.
  • Riboflavin (B2) works as an antioxidant and also allows the body to turn nutrients into energy.
  • Niacin (B3) allows the body to repair and produce DNA.
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) assists with the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Pyridoxine (B6) is important in the production of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), producing red blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  • Biotin (B7) helps the body metabolize fat and carbohydrates.
  • Folate (B9) assists with the production of white and red blood cells. It also lets the body metabolize amino acid.
  • Cobalamin (B12) is essential to brain function

MedlinePlus relays that vitamin C is soluble in water. It helps the body absorb iron, heal itself, and create proteins essential to the formation of skin, ligaments, and tendons. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that prevents free radicals that occur when you are exposed to radiation or tobacco smoke, or when the body metabolizes food.

A 2016 study published in Cell Journal mentioned various useful applications of NAC. As mentioned in the study, NAC is an important antioxidant, and it has been used as a medicine. Found in garlic, meat, yogurt, and cheese, it is also important in increasing glutathione.

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NAC is an amino acid that is important to the respiratory system’s health. As stated by Healthline, it allows you to produce glutathione successfully. Medical News Today reports that glutathione is important in fending off certain conditions, such as infertility, heart disease, and even some mental health disorders.

  • NAC may prevent or decrease damage done to the kidneys.
  •  It works as an expectorant to help the body get rid of mucus while reducing inflammation in the lungs.
  •  It may boost fertility in women and men because of glutathione, which assists in forming sperm cells.
  •  Research shows it could also help people who are addicted to substances or have certain mental health conditions.
  •  NAC’s role in the increased production of glutathione can also assist the immune system.

Though data is limited, NAC is thought to assist with mental health conditions that sometimes result from brain damage. Brain damage may result in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and even bipolar disorder. 

NIDA also states that NAC could help teenagers resist marijuana cravings. Doctors mentioned that this could be because teens had been exposed to less marijuana than adults. 

NAC seems like a promising supplement regardless of the substance from which you are going through withdrawal.


The Alcohol and Drug Foundation mentions that a nutritious diet can help people who are going through withdrawal. First, it can decrease moodiness associated with it. 

A bad diet can cause you to crave the substance from which you are detoxing. Talk to a specialist about whether adding a multivitamin can help as you go through drug or alcohol withdrawal. 

Aim to eat a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein during withdrawal. Healthy fats, such as oily fish and nuts, are also essential. 

"OTC" Spelled in red, white, and blue pills


Different substances cause a variety of withdrawal symptoms. A vitamin or supplement is not a substitute for detoxing under the care of a medical professional. 

Though more data is needed to determine how much vitamins or supplements can assist you during withdrawal, having these items in your arsenal can sometimes help. Still, only a doctor or addiction specialist can advise on what supplements or vitamins could help you during the process of withdrawal. 


(July 2018) Can you treat opiate withdrawal symptoms at home? Medical News Today. Retrieved April 2019 from

(June 2018) N-acetylcysteine: A potential treatment for substance use disorders. Current Psychiatry Reports. Retrieved April 2019 from

(September 2017) After Showing Promise for Cannabis-Using Adolescents, N-Acetylcysteine Falters in Adult Study. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved April 2019 from

(July 2018) Understanding Drug Withdrawal Symptoms. Verywell Mind. Retrieved April 2019 from

(2009) Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. World Health Organization. Retrieved April 2019 from

Home-based withdrawal. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Retrieved April 2019 from

(December 2016) A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine. Cell Journal. Retrieved April 2019 from

(January 2017) Vitamin C. MedlinePlus. Retrieved April 2019 from

(December 2018) What are the benefits of glutathione? Medical News Today? Retrieved April 2019 from

(December 2018) Top 9 Benefits of NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine). Healthline. Retrieved April 2019 from




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