Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Helping someone with ice addiction

3-minute read

Helping someone with an ice addiction can be challenging, but recognising the symptoms, knowing where to go for support and knowing how to look after yourself will help.

What is ice?

Ice is a methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth. It is usually small, colourless crystals, but can be coarse white or brownish powder with a bitter taste and strong smell.

People using ice usually smoke or inject it. Using it regularly can lead to addiction.

Ice speeds up messages to the brain. Someone who has recently taken ice might:

  • talk a lot
  • be restless and scratch like they are itchy
  • be nervous, agitated and aggressive
  • breathe fast, sweat, grind their teeth and have shaky hands

Effects of ice on mental and physical health

Ice can alter moods and sometimes makes people violent. It can also trigger mental health problems like depression, anxiety and psychosis. Users can alienate friends and family, and have work and financial problems.

Overdose can lead to a racing heart, breathing problems, headaches, fits, confusion, unconsciousness, heart attack, stroke or death.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if someone has an overdose.

Ice and psychosis

High doses of ice can lead to psychosis lasting for several days. Symptoms include strange, aggressive and violent behaviour, and hallucinations.

How to help a person with ice addiction

Many services can help someone addicted to ice, but they must be ready to seek help and rehabilitation.

Listen to their concerns, set boundaries and encourage them to access a doctor (search for a doctor in your region), or 24-hour drug and alcohol service like Counselling Online.

Overcoming ice addiction can be difficult. People can experience withdrawal symptoms — exhaustion, dizziness, blurred vision, aches, nightmares, irritability, anxiety, paranoia and feeling ‘down’. These problems usually ease after a week.

People with addictions can relapse. This is part of the withdrawal process. Read about helping someone with a drug problem.

Help for you as a carer

Being around someone on ice is stressful. You may feel desperate, anxious, helpless and frustrated. It is important to know that you are not alone.

Make sure you look after yourself when caring for someone with addiction. You should eat healthy food and sleep well, exercise, see friends and take a break. You also need to set boundaries for yourself and decide what you will do and what you won’t do.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has a factsheet that may help when a family member is using ice.

If you are in danger, stay calm, get to a safe place and call the police on triple zero (000).

More information

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2019


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Methamphetamine (Ice) Effects, Addiction & Withdrawal | Your Room

Methamphetamine (or 'ice') comes with many short and long term effects. Find out what to do in the case of addiction or withdrawal and places to get help.

Read more on NSW Health website

Ice - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Crystal methamphetamine (ice, ice drug) is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Its stronger, more addictive and therefore has more harmful side effects than the powder form of methamphetamine known as speed.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

Telling war stories is not good drug education - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Stories of lived experience have a limited role

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

Social, Emotional and Cultural Wellbeing - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Addiction and mental health

It is estimated that around 50% of people with severe mental illnesses are affected by substance abuse.

Read more on Australian College of Mental Health Nurses website

Cocaine Side Effects, Addiction & Overdose | Your Room

Cocaine is a stimulant drug with many side effects. Find out what to do in the case of addiction or overdose and places to get help and treatment.

Read more on NSW Health website

Synthetic Drugs Effects & FAQs (Zombie, Flakka & Bath Salts) | Your Room

Synthetic drugs like Zombie, Flakka and Bath Salts come with many side effects. Find out what to do in the case of addiction or overdose and where to get help.

Read more on NSW Health website

Amphetamines and Cocaine - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Amphetamines and Cocaine Amphetamines and cocaine are stimulants

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Substance misuse and mental health - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Neurotransmitters in our bodies affect our lives profoundly. Understanding how substance use impacts these neurotransmitters can help us prevent and reduce alcohol and other drug harms in our community, including mental health issues.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

What are the effects of taking drugs? | Australian Government Department of Health

Drugs have different effects depending on the drug itself, the person taking it and their surroundings. Learn how your body processes drugs and about the short-term and long-term effects. Taking drugs can affect not just your physical and mental health, but your whole life. Just one pill can kill.

Read more on Department of Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo