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Ice is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is a type of methamphetamine, which is generally stronger and more addictive and has more harmful side effects than the powder form known as speed.1
Ice usually comes as small chunky clear crystals that look like ice. It can also come as white or brownish crystal-like powder with a strong smell and bitter taste.1
Crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard, P.2
How is it used?
Ice is generally smoked or injected and the effects can be felt in 3 to 7 seconds. It is sometimes swallowed (15 to 30 minutes to feel the effects) or snorted (3 to 5 minutes to feel the effects).3
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It's important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
The effects of ice can last for around 6 hours, but it might be hard to sleep for a few days after using the drug.
Ice affects everyone differently, but effects may include:
If a large amount or a strong batch is taken, it could also cause an overdose. If any of the following effects are experienced an ambulance should be called straight away by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police.
It can take several days to ‘come down’ from using ice. The following effects may be experienced during this time:
Using a depressant drug such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or cannabis to help with the ‘come-down’ effects may result in a cycle of dependence on both types of drugs.
With regular use, ice may eventually cause:
High doses of ice and frequent use may cause ‘ice psychosis’. This condition is characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations and bizarre, aggressive or violent behaviour. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using ice.4
People who regularly use ice can quickly become dependent on the drug. They may feel they need ice to go about their normal activities like working, studying and socialising, or just to get through the day.8
Mental health problems
Some people who regularly use ice may start to feel less enjoyment of everyday activities. They can get stressed easily and their moods can go up and down quite quickly. These changes can lead to longer-term problems with anxiety and depression. People may feel these effects for at least several weeks or months after they give up ice.9
Mixing ice with other drugs
The effects of taking ice with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:
Ice + speed or ecstasy: enormous strain on the heart and other parts of the body, which can lead to stroke.5
Ice + alcohol, cannabis or benzodiazepines: enormous strain on the body, and more likely to overdose. The stimulant effects of ice may mask the effects of depressant drugs like benzodiazepines and can increase the risk of overdose.6
Giving up ice after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms generally settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms can include:
Reducing the risks
1. Campbell, A. (2000). The Australian Illicit Drug Guide. Melbourne: Black Inc.
Last updated: 8 August 2014