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Ice (crystal meth)

9-minute read

Key facts

  • Ice is an illegal drug.
  • Ice use can lead to psychosis, and an ice overdose can be fatal.
  • Speak with your doctor if you want to stop using ice.

What is ice?

Ice (crystal meth) is an illegal methamphetamine, a member of the amphetamine family of drugs. It is very addictive and is linked to chronic physical and mental health problems.

Ice is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the messages sent between your body and your brain.

It is purer and more powerful than other types of methamphetamine, such as speed.

It comes as little crystals that look like ice, or as a white-to-brownish, crystal-like powder. It has a strong smell and bitter taste. It can be:

  • injected
  • smoked
  • snorted
  • swallowed

Ice is also known as:

  • crystal meth
  • meth
  • shabu
  • crystal
  • glass
  • Tina
  • shard

What are the effects of taking ice?

Ice produces an intense rush that can make you feel happy, confident, energetic and alert.

You may also:

  • have an increased sex drive
  • feel itchy
  • have enlarged pupils
  • have blurred vision
  • grind your teeth
  • have a fast heartbeat
  • sweat excessively
  • have a dry mouth
  • shake and tremble
  • feel anxious

These effects can last for up to 12 hours.

Ice can affect people differently based on:

  • how much they take
  • how strong it is
  • the person's size, height and weight
  • whether they are used to taking it
  • whether they take other drugs at the same time

What can go wrong with ice?

Coming down from using ice may take several days. People who are 'coming down' may:

High doses of ice and frequent use can cause ‘ice psychosis’, which can last a few days, causing:

  • severe paranoid delusions and hallucinations
  • unusual, aggressive or violent behaviour

People who take a large amount or a strong batch of ice are at risk of overdose. The signs of overdose include:

An overdose can lead to:

  • cardiac arrest
  • unconsciousness
  • death

If you suspect someone has overdosed on ice, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. The ambulance officers don’t have to call the police.

Can ice cause long-term problems?

People who use ice repeatedly can develop problems including:

People who use ice regularly may also:

  • look much older than they are
  • find everyday activities less enjoyable
  • have rapid mood swings
  • become depressed and easily stressed
  • be susceptible to social, work and financial problems

People who snort ice are at higher risk of

People who inject ice and share needles are at greater risk of:

What if I use other drugs or alcohol together with ice?

Using ice along with drugs like speed or ecstasy increases the risk of a stroke.

A person is at an increased risk of overdose if they use ice with:

Can I become dependent on ice?

People quickly need larger doses of ice to produce the same effect, making ice highly addictive.

Some users may feel like they need the drug just to get through the day. This can impact their:

  • life
  • work
  • relationships

People can also become dependent on ice. They may find it difficult to stop using ice or control how much they use. This is often due to withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal can be difficult and can lead to:

How can I stop using ice?

Getting off ice can be difficult. If you are struggling with withdrawal, speak with your doctor. They can help you manage withdrawal symptoms, and advise you on treatment options, such as:

  • support groups
  • counselling and therapy
  • referral to an addiction specialist
  • inpatient detox and rehabilitation

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Resources and support

See 'What are the effects of taking drugs?' on the Department of Health website for more information.

Find out more about how drugs and alcohol can impact your health, including where to find help and support.

You or someone you know may be finding it hard to manage issues related to drug use. You can try healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare step for you. This could be:

  • self-care
  • talking to a health professional
  • going to a hospital
  • calling triple zero (000)

You can find support and more information about ice through the:

Look below for more help and support in your state or territory:

Support for injection behaviour

If you inject ice, you can reduce your risk of blood-borne disease by attending a Needle and Syringe Program (NSP).

Needle and Syringe Programs provide clean needles or syringes to people who inject drugs. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘needle exchange’.

The types of Needle and Syringe Programs vary, from pharmacies to vending machines.

You can also find a local Needle and Syringe Program using the healthdirect Service Finder. Select ‘By name’ and type ‘needle’ into the search bar.

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

Last reviewed: April 2023

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