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Ice and mental health

3-minute read

Ice is an illicit drug, also known as crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard and p. It’s a stimulant, which means it speeds up the messages going to and from your brain. It’s also linked to brain and mental health problems including the risk of stroke, anxiety, depression, violent behaviour and psychosis.

Ice belongs to the amphetamine family of drugs. It can look like little colourless ‘rocks’ (which is how it got the name ‘ice’) or a white to brownish crystal-like powder. It can be injected, smoked, snorted or swallowed.

Effects of ice

Ice produces an intense rush that makes users feel confident and energetic.

Over time, larger doses are needed to produce the same effect, making ice highly addictive. Some users feel they need the drug just to get through the day.

Find out about the physical effects of ice.

Mental health issues

People who use ice can suffer from paranoia, hallucinations, memory loss and difficulty sleeping.

Frequent high doses can cause ‘ice psychosis’ with paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and strange, aggressive or violent behaviours. This can last a few days.

Coming down takes days, and can make people anxious, depressed and paranoid.

Regular users can find everyday activities less enjoyable, have rapid mood swings and become depressed and easily stressed. They are also susceptible to social, work and financial problems. Find out how drug use can impact your life.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues as a result of drug use, try healthdirect's Symptom Checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Cravings for ice can lead to aggressive and violent behaviour, and addicts can alienate their family and friends.

It can be difficult to care for someone taking ice. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation website has more information about what to expect.

Kicking the habit

Kicking the habit is difficult because the body has to adapt to getting by without the drug’s stimulant effects.

People going through withdrawals often feel irritable, confused, exhausted, paranoid, depressed and anxious. They can have cravings, panic attacks and nightmares. This can last a couple of weeks.

Find help on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and Cracks in the Ice websites.

You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14, DrugInfo on 1300 85 85 84 or the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 if you need to talk to someone about drugs.

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

Last reviewed: July 2019

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