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Ice facts Ice. White crystals with a glass pipe for smoking. © Australian Drug Foundation.

What is ice?

Effects of ice


Further information



What is ice?

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, more addictive and has more harmful side effects than the powder form known as speed.  

Ice usually comes as a white or brownish crystal-like powder, with a strong smell and bitter taste. It can also come in the form of sheets of clear crystals.

Other names

Crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard.

How is it used?

Ice is generally smoked or injected and the effects can be felt immediately. It can also be swallowed or snorted − the effects take around 30 minutes to feel if it’s used in this way. 

Effects of ice

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 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:

  • Happiness and confidence
  • Talking more and feeling energetic
  • Repeating simple things like itching and scratching
  • Large pupils and dry mouth
  • Fast heart beat and breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Reduced appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased sex drive

If a large amount or a strong batch is taken, it could also cause:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Fits
  • Passing out
  • Stroke, heart attack and death

Injecting ice and sharing needles may also cause:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C 

Snorting ice can damage the nasal passage and cause nose bleeds.

Coming down

The following effects may be experienced 4 to 6 days following use:

  • Restless sleep and exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • Paranoia, hallucinations and confusion 
  • Irritability, mood swings, depression and violence

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.

Long term effects

With regular use, ice may eventually cause:

  • Reduced appetite and extreme weight loss
  • Restless sleep
  • Dry mouth and dental problems
  • Regular colds or flu
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Breathlessness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Anxiety, paranoia and violence 
  • Depression
  • Heart and kidney problems
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Needing to use more to get the same effect 
  • Dependence on ice 
  • Financial, work or social problems

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.

Ice + alcohol, cannabis or benzodiazepines: enormous strain on the body, and more likely to overdose.


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 should settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms include:

  • Cravings for ice
  • Increased appetite 
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Aches and pains
  • Exhaustion 
  • Restless sleep and nightmares
  • Anxiety, depression and paranoia

Find out more about withdrawal.

Further information


Reducing the risks



ADF SEARCH – Find further credible research and information on ice.
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Last updated:  29 November 2013

“Ice” is a common name for crystal methamphetamine. It is more potent
than other forms of amphetamine, including the powder form that is sometimes referred to as “speed”.

This means that ice generally has a stronger effect that lasts for longer than other forms of amphetamine. It also has stronger side effects and a worse “comedown”.

Amphetamines, including crystal methamphetamine, belong to a group of drugs called stimulants. They speed up the messages going between the brain and the body.
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