What Is Ice?
Ice is slang for crystal methamphetamine. It’s also called “meth”, “shabu”, “crystal”, “glass”, and “shard”. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, crystal methamphetamine is a type of stimulant – a drug that makes a user feel alert, awake, and energetic.
Stimulants are often highly addictive, and in Australia, ice has become a major problem. According to Time, “Australia has the highest use of methamphetamine in the English-speaking world or indeed almost any other country” and that it is “ravaging the country”.
How Is Ice Taken?
Smoking is the most common way to ingest ice, but it can also be snorted, swallowed, or injected.
What Are The Side Effects Of Using Ice?
Short-term effects include a fast heart rate, lack of appetite, a sense of “euphoria”, and “heightened” senses. Taking too much ice can leave very serious effects on a person's physical and psychological well-being, including anxiety and aggression, seizures, and even psychosis.
An ice addict’s behaviour changes significantly when they’re experiencing methamphetamine psychosis – they can be extremely paranoid, have bizarre ideas, and even insist that they can see or hear things that aren’t there.
Common Myths About Ice
Why is it important to separate myth from fact? Because certain myths may create false perceptions which can be damaging. For example, if the assumption is that all meth heads look sick and frail, then it ignores the possibility that there maybe thousands of addicts suffering in silence.
“Addiction To Ice Happens Instantly”
It’s true that you feel the rush or the high from ice within a matter of minutes from your first hit, but it isn’t necessarily true that you’ll become addicted at that very moment too. Let’s get scientific for a second.
See, when you ingest methamphetamine, the drug overrides your brain and makes it produce more dopamine – the chemical responsible for the sensation of pleasure. When you take ice regularly, your brain assumes that it doesn’t have to keep producing more dopamine, since you’re already supplementing with an artificial supply. So when you suddenly stop, your brain suddenly feels the effect of the missing dopamine. You get depressed, lethargic, and you’ll get really bad physical symptoms too.
This is when you start becoming addicted – when you need the next hit to feel good again.
“You Can Immediately Recognise An Ice Addict”
You’ve probably heard of “meth mouth”, or when addicts’ teeth fall off due to ice abuse. Or you’ve probably seen before and after photos depicting ice addicts with pockmarked and acne-ridden skin, gaunt faces, and dark circles around their eyes. Yes, it’s true that addiction to ice can manifest in really ugly ways.
However, there are many ice addicts who appear normal – albeit more hyper and intense than most people. This is especially the case for those who are just getting into ice.
“Ice Users Are Violent”
Most drugs alter users’ behaviours. They can lower inhibitions, create paranoia and anxiety, and even cause temporary psychosis. During these “psychotic breaks”, addicts may feel the need to defend themselves from perceived threats – this is why ice is often associated with violence.
However, it’s not fair to say that ice is the only drug that does this; drugs like alcohol and cocaine are also known to push people into violent acts.
“You Can’t Quit Ice”
It can be incredibly difficult to quit ice, but it’s not impossible. Addicts can seek help at rehabilitation centres and can attend meetings with other addicts and former addicts to talk about their experiences getting off the drug. There are many success stories of former addicts who quit ice for good.
How To Deal With An Ice Addict
How can you tell if someone is addicted to ice?
- Dilated pupils
- Picking at their skin
- Insomnia or inability to sleep
- Mood swings
How To Help An Ice Addict
If you have a friend or relative that you suspect is addicted to ice there are many resources available online. For emergencies, you can contact Lifeline at 13 11 14. For free consultations on drug use, you can reach out to the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline at 1800 250 015.