Overview

ICE is a street name for crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a powerful, synthetic stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs speed up the messages going to and from the brain. ICE is more powerful than other forms of amphetamines. It is more pure than the powder form of methamphetamine ('speed').  Check out this page for more info and videos.

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Factsheet

Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

What is the drug ICE?

drug ICE what is it?The drug ICE is a street name for crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a powerful, synthetic stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs speed up the messages going to and from the brain. Ice is more powerful than other forms of amphetamines. It is more pure than the powder form of methamphetamine ('speed'). Ice often appears as large, transparent and sheet-like crystals that may have a hint of pink, blue or green colour. Other street names for ice include meth, d-meth, crystal, crystal meth, shabu, shabs, tina and glass.

So how do you know what ICE is going to do to you?

When researching this topic many views from users, doctors, and researchers were revealed, reporting how ICE affects individuals. It is difficult to see how it will affect you when there are so many variables that could change its impact on you. There are many factors that might contribute to your decision to use ice.

In making your decision it is important to consider the following things:

  • Impact on your health
  • Impact on your ability to have fun in life
  • Impact on relationships.

Some questions for you to ask yourself are:

  • How likely is it that I will have a positive experience?
  • How do I know that the next experience is also going to be a positive one?
  • How do I know that I will only do it once and that one time will be safe?
  • Can I afford it?
  • What is the safest method of use?
  • Am I in the right environment, is there someone to help me if something goes wrong?
  • Do I know what the risks are and what to do if something goes wrong?
  • Am I taking anything else (alcohol, illicit drugs, over the counter or prescribed medication) that might interact with ice?

What are the effects of ICE?

drug ICE what is it?The effects of any drug (including ice) vary from person to person, depending on the individual's size, weight and health, how much and how the drug is taken, whether the person is used to taking it and whether other drugs are taken. Effects also depend on the environment in which the drug is used - such as whether the person is alone, with others or at a party.

Immediate effects of ICE

Soon after taking ICE, a person may experience a number of psychological and physical effects including:

  • euphoria and excitement
  • increased alertness, confidence and libido, more energy, feelings of increased strength, talkativeness, restlessness, repeating simple acts, and itching, picking and scratching
  • tremors of the hands and fingers
  • increased breathing rate, body temperature, blood pressure, a rapid and irregular heartbeat and excessive sweating
  • difficulty sleeping, reduced appetite, dilated pupils, dry mouth, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and severe headaches
  • abrupt shifts in thought and speech - potentially difficult to understand
  • nervousness, panic attacks, anxiety, paranoia
  • irritability, aggression, hostility and 'amphetamine psychosis', including hallucinations, paranoid delusions and bizarre behaviour.

The variable purity of each batch of ice increases the risk of negative effects and overdose. If you use ice (or have a friend who uses ice) and experience any of these effects, it is important that you look after yourself. Check out the info below on Getting help for ICE.

If you need urgent help, it is important that you call an ambulance immediately on "000" (within Australia).

Coming down

As the effects of ICE wear off, a person may experience a range of symptoms such as:

  • tension
  • depression
  • radical mood swings
  • uncontrollable violence
  • exhaustion.

If you use ice (or have a friend who uses ice) and experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you look after yourself and that you avoid being in situations where you might hurt others.

Long-term effects

Long-term use of ice can result in a number of health issues, including:

  • High blood pressure and increased risk of heart-related complications such as heart attack and heart failure.
  • Malnutrition and rapid weight loss due to reduced appetite.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to infections due to the person not sleeping or eating properly.
  • Depression, anxiety, tension and paranoia.
  • Brain damage (there is some evidence that amphetamines may damage brain cells resulting in reduced memory function and other impairments in thinking).
  • Dental problems (from grinding teeth).
  • Smoking ice can damage the lungs.
  • Snorting ice can damage the lining of the nose.
  • Injecting ice can lead to scarring, abscesses and vein damage. Sharing injecting equipment increases the risk of contracting blood-borne viruses, such as Hepatitis C and B, and HIV.

Other effects + issues

  • Unsafe sex - Due to some of the effects of ice, some people may be more prone to practice unsafe sex. This increases the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses, such as Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.
    Check out our taking care of your sexual health topic page for more info.
  • family, financial, legal, work, school and other personal problems can arise from using using ice (or any drug). These problems can be made much worse because some people who use ice can become irritable, hostile, violent and/or experience other psychological problems.
  • Drug driving - It is dangerous to drive a vehicle or operate machinery after using ICE.

If you are planning to use ICE, it is important that you consider the health problems before making your decision. You should also plan alternative transport, and it may be a good idea to hide your car keys or ask someone you trust to look after them for you.

Tolerance + dependence

People who use ICE can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug so that increasingly greater doses are needed to achieve the desired effects. Ice can also lead to physical and/or psychological dependence. People who are psychologically dependent on ice find that using it becomes far more important than other activities in their life. They crave the drug and find it very difficult to stop using it.

Physical dependence occurs when a person's body adapts to the drug and the body gets used to functioning with the drug present. If a person who is physically dependent on ice suddenly stops taking it they may experience withdrawal symptoms.

ICE + the law

ICE is illegal in Australia. Federal, State and Territory laws include penalties for possessing, using, making or selling ice. Australian drug laws distinguish between those who use drugs and those who supply or traffic drugs.

Getting help for ICE use

drug ICE getting help for ICE useICE might affect you in a number of ways . If you are using ICE regularly and feel like it is affecting your life in a negative way, you might want to get some help to get it under control. It may be a good idea to talk to a doctor, drug and alcohol worker or other health worker about the treatment options that are best for you. Have a look at Reach Out's Who can help you section as well as the numbers below for further info.

For more information about treatment options you may want to check out Reach Out's  Getting help for drug use factsheet or contact the Alcohol and Drugs Information Service (ADIS). The numbers for ADIS are listed in the 'Getting more info/support below

Treatment for ice use

It has been reported that users of ice and other methamphetamines are less likely to access treatment services than other drug users. Research is currently being conducted into the most appropriate treatment models for ice and other methamphetamine users in Australia. Possible treatments include both psychosocial and behavioural approaches specific to methamphetamine users (e.g. counselling, psychotherapy), as well as medication.

Withdrawal

Some of the symptoms people may experience once they have stopped using ice include:

  • disorientation
  • hunger
  • extreme fatigue and exhaustion
  • decreased energy, apathy and the limited ability to experience pleasure
  • anxiety, irritability and depression and craving ice.

If you are in the process of withdrawing from using ice, and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you look after yourself. Surround yourself with the support you need to get through what might be a really difficult time. You might want to talk with your doctor, drug and alcohol worker, other health worker, or ADIS (see contact numbers at the bottom of the fact sheet) about strategies for getting through the withdrawal symptoms.

Getting more info / support

If you use ice and are finding that this is having a negative impact on your life, there is help out there for you and people you can talk to. This might be your doctor, a drug and alcohol worker, a counsellor, or ADIS (see contact numbers at the bottom of the fact sheet). You might be able to talk with them to get support and to find out about the treatment options that might work for you.

Drug information + advice services

  • NSW Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) - (02) 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599 in rural and regional NSW.
  • Directline (Victorian Based)- 1800 888 236
  • SA ADIS - (08) 8363 8618 or 1300 131 340
  • WA ADIS - (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024
  • QLD ADIS - (07) 3837 5989 or 1800 177 833
  • Tasmanian ADIS - (03) 9416 1818 or 1800 811 994
  • NT ADIS - 1800 629 683 or Alice Springs (08) 8951 7580 or Darwin (08) 8922 8399
  • NT Amity House - (08) 8944 6565 or 1800 684 372
  • ACT ADIS - (02) 6205 4545
  • DrugInfo Clearinghouse - 1300 858 584
  • Family Drug Helpline - This is a Helpline you may want to call if you have a family member with drug problems. They provide education programs, free booklets, support groups and telephone support. Call 1300 660 068 or (03) 9573 173.

Acknowledgement:
Adapted from 'Ice', Fact sheet 1.28, revised April 2006, DrugInfo Clearinghouse, Australian Drug Foundation, with permission' 


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