Ice (methamphetamine)

‘Ice' is a street name for crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a powerful, synthetic stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs speed up the activity in the central nervous system. Ice is more potent than other forms of amphetamines such as speed. Ice often appears as large, transparent and "sheet-like" crystals that may have a hint of pink, blue or green colour.

How is ice used?

Ice is most commonly administered by smoking, swallowing, snorting or injecting. Some people smoke ice using a glass pipe, while others heat it on aluminium foil and inhale the vapours ("chasing").

Immediate effects

The onset of the effects of the drug is dependant on the route of administration. After taking ice, a person may experience a number of psychological and physical effects including:

  • Feelings of euphoria, excitement and well-being.
  • Increased alertness, energy, confidence and libido, talkativeness, restlessness, repeating simple acts.
  • Tremors of the hands and fingers.
  • Speeding up of bodily functions, such as increased breathing rate, body temperature, blood pressure, a rapid and irregular heartbeat and excessive sweating.
  • Difficulty sleeping, reduced appetite, dilated pupils, dry mouth, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and severe headaches.
  • Abrupt shifts in thought and speech, which can make someone using ice difficult to understand.
  • Irritability, aggression, hostility and "amphetamine psychosis", including hallucinations and paranoid delusions, itching, picking and scratching skin. 

The inconsistency of purity levels of ice increases the risk of negative effects and overdose.


Some of the symptoms people may experience once they have stopped using ice include:

  • Disorientation and confusion.  
  • Extreme fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Decreased energy and apathy.
  • Anxiety, irritability and depression.
  • Cravings

Treatment options

There are a number of drug treatment options available that includes counselling, group therapy, withdrawal (detoxification) and medication. Residential, supervised/home withdrawal and "out-patient" programs are available. Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of rehab, treatment and self-help options.

Sources of information:

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

Reach Out! website

Ice information page by the Australian Drug Foundation - Drug Info Clearinghouse

The Australian Drug Foundation is a national service aimed at helping to prevent alcohol and other drug problems and harms in the community. Their page about ice provides general information about effects, withdrawal and treatment.

Fact sheet about Ice by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and other intervention responses to alcohol and other drug related harm. Below is a link to their fact sheet about ice.

Ice information page by Reach Out!

Reach Out! is an initiative of the Inspire Foundation. The aim of the service is to improve young people's mental health and well-being by providing support, information and referrals. Reach Out's information page on ice details the effects of the drug and how to get help.

It may be difficult to know what to do if you are worried about someone who is using ice. It is particularly concerning if you think someone you are close to is using ice and is not telling you about it. Helping someone who is not ready to change their behaviour is challenging, especially when the decision to get help is ultimately theirs.

If you approach the person you are concerned about, there are several things you might want to consider before doing so.

Be informed - Gather information about ice so you can see the signs that someone has been using. It will also help if the person you are trying to assist knows that you understand the effects of the drug and what they might be experiencing.

Discuss ice openly - Let the person you are concerned about know that you are open to listening to them without being judgmental.  This may make them feel more comfortable to talk knowing they won't be criticised or put down. 

Ice can create paranoia and aggression in people who have been using for a significant period of time. Choose a time to approach the topic when the person appears to be calm. Be aware that the person may be in denial or resistant to the need to address the issue and you can not force them to open up or seek treatment. 

Speak to a counsellor yourself first - Sometimes it is sensible to seek help and advice for yourself if someone's drug-related behaviour is impacting on your life.

Reference: Reach Out! 

National Ice Taskforce - Australian Government

This website provides information about the Australian Government's National Ice Taskforce, some facts about Ice, and where to find help and support.

Taking Action, Stopping Ice - State Government of Victoria

Coinciding with the 1800 ICE ADVICE helpline is the State Government of Victoria's website. It provides updates on the Government’s efforts to stop ice on the streets and at the source, and information on treatment services and how the community can get involved in tackling the drug.

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

NDARC conducts research and related activities that increases the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and intervention responses to alcohol and other drug related harm.

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

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