What is ICE? 

Methamphetamine – or ICE – is a synthetic stimulant/drug. It speeds up the messages that travel between the brain and the body and it is highly addictive. In fact, addiction to this drug can develop far more quickly than to alcohol or other drugs. There is no safe level of drug use.

The initial effect of ICE is on the central nervous system which leads to a range of physical and mental changes in the ICE user’s body. The effects of ICE can last up to 6 hours, but can cause sleep deprivation for days. 

The likelihood of dependence on the drug ICE is higher than most other substances and the grasp the drug has on users is severe. People who become addicted to ICE fast become unable to go about their normal daily routine without it. 

Dependence can cause ICE psychosis* – including delusions, hallucinations and bizarre, violent or aggressive behaviour as well as many other mental health issues.

Other street names for ICE include meth, crystal, crystal meth, shabu, tina, shard and glass. 

Why do people take ICE?

People take ICE for a variety of reasons including:

• Increased feelings of pleasure and confidence

• Increased energy levels

• To escape from reality

• Peer pressure

• Experimentation

• To feel grown up

Ordinary people can go from recreational users - thinking they have it “under control”- to addicts in a short period of time. They take ICE for a solution, which in the end becomes the problem.

“The first step towards solving a problem,
comes from owning up to the problem.”
 

Our region has an ICE problem – with one of the highest rates of ICE abuse in the state. Since last year, there has been a 177% increase in ICE-related ambulance calls-outs. The Geelong region accounts for one in every five ice-related ambulance call-outs outside of Melbourne.

Other than cannabis, this is the first time an illicit drug has been readily accessible and popular in regional areas. The spectrum of ICE users is also wider than most other recreational drugs - everyone from white-collar workers to trades people, pre-teens to parents have been recognised as ICE addicts. Addiction is rife in work places, schools and sporting groups - even coaches of junior sports teams have identified kids in their teams who are using ICE. 

In 2006, parts of the US and Canada were facing huge battles with ICE. While problems there have not been eradicated, evidence shows that Australia is falling far behind these countries in addressing and tackling the effects of ICE use on society (REF).

It doesn’t take one genius to stop this problem. We believe change will take place when a number of passionate people do a range of positive little things. When enough people commit to overcoming an issue, however big or small their contribution, a massive change can occur.

Word Definitions

*Psychosis

A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

Urban dictionary

Medical term that tries to make a state of mind into a disease. Describes a person experiencing hallucinations, or so-called “delusions” that may seem misguided to someone who doesn’t have time or respect for the deeper meanings of those beliefs. 

Dopamine

The happiness chemical in your brain that makes you feel and do happy things…whatever they may be.  

Urban dictionary

A compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline.

Tweaking

A condition reached at the end of a drug binge when ICE no longer provides a rush or a high. Unable to relieve the horrible feelings of emptiness and craving, an abuser loses his sense of identity.

METH

A synthetic drug with more rapid and lasting effects than amphetamine, used illegally as a stimulant.

Urban dictionary 

An abbreviation for methamphetamine, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system by causing it to release more dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives someone a feeling of satisfaction.

Meth is a dangerous drug and should not be used by anyone.

Nora- drenaline

A hormone which is released by the adrenal medulla and by the sympathetic nerves and functions as a neurotransmitter. It is also used as a drug to raise blood pressure . 

ICE also releases high doses of noradrenaline, activating the “fight or flight” system. Using high doses can be anxious and jumpy (flight) or suspicious and aggressive (fight).

How is ICE used?

 

Users can smoke, snort, inject or swallow ice.

In Australia, and increasingly in regional towns, it is most commonly smoked. When it is smoked it can take effect in as little as 3 seconds. 

It is not only the drug itself that can cause damage; it is also the way it is used. Injecting ICE can lead to open wounds, infections and serious diseases from the needles used. Users who smoke ICE often have burns around their mouths from the pipe and the smoke, which become infected easily due to lowered immune defences.

It can cause itchiness, dry mouth, teeth grinding, excessive sweating and an increased heart rate. Injecting ICE and sharing needles can increase the risk of Hepatitis B & C and HIV/AIDS.

How Addictive is ICE?

The first experience may involve some pleasure such as a rush (strong feeling) of confidence, hyper activeness and energy, but some people who use ICE can have their life significantly impacted and develop a strong desire to continue using it because the drug creates a false sense of happiness and well-being.

The up

Your brain is just flooding with dopamine at a ridiculous rate so you feel all these strong, positive emotions at once.

The down

During an ICE binge, users drain their dopamine supply. This makes it difficult for users to feel pleasure at all, lessens their ability to think and remember, and can also affect movement. 

When the high wears off, the come down is like the deepest state of depression you can experience, bringing feelings of isolation, fatigue and dependence. One third of treated users have attempted suicide. It puts you in a state of hopelessness.

ICE vs Heroin

Both ICE and Heroin are terribly addictive.

If you have a heroin addiction you just can’t stop, because when you do, you go through the WORST hell there is on this earth - withdrawal.

ICE addiction is different, because ICE acts on the reward centre of your brain. You really just don’t want to stop, because your brain has been COMPLETELY rewired to deal with crazy high dopamine levels you experience. You become a different person because your brain is no longer the same, and if you take away the thing that made your brain like that in the first place (ICE), then you have to go through the horrific process of rewiring your brain back to “normal” without all that excess dopamine keeping you going.

“You will crave them both for YEARS after you stop using them
(probably the rest of your life)...”

“addiction is hell, no matter what the drug, and these are the two most addicting drugs... probably ever.”

“ICE is more addicting. Heroin is #2. Crack #3.”

 “Don’t even mess with the top 3 if you’re not addicted. It’ll ruin your life!”

http://www.bluelight.org/ 

ICE usage statistics in Australia

USA

In mid-west states of the USA such as Oklahoma, ICE accounts for 80-90% of ALL drug related arrests and charges! Crystal Meth is also found in more and more cases of motor vehicle accidents and homicides.

VIC

In Victoria the state government has convened a parliamentary inquiry into the use and ever increasing availability of ICE. Ambulance Victoria says its ICE-related callouts in 201/2013 increased 88% in metropolitain Melbourne, whilst in regional Victoria, this increase was an extraordinary 198%. ICE is a scourge the likes of which we have not seen before*.

• *Source http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/topics/quick-statistics#amphetamines

ICE usage statistics in Australia

Frighteningly, 6.8% of Australians aged 12 years and older have used meth/amphetamines at some stage in their life.

http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/topics/quick-statistics#ice

World Vs Australia

ICE and amphetamine use in the Australian general population is high compared with the United States or the United Kingdom, with 2.5% of Australians 14 years or older reporting use in the preceding year.  

This is double the rate of other developed countries. http://theconversation.com/ 

The stages of ICE use

The Rush

 This is the initial reaction an addict will have when smoking or injecting ICE. During the rush, the abuser’s heartbeat races and metabolism, blood pressure and pulse skyrocket. Unlike the rush associated with crack cocaine, which lasts for approximately two to five minutes, the ICE rush can continue for up to thirty minutes.

The High

Next come’s the high. During the high, the addict often feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative. The delusional effects can result in a user becoming intensely focused on an insignificant item, such as repeatedly cleaning the same window for several hours. The high can last four to sixteen hours.

The Binge

A binge is uncontrolled use of any drug or alcohol. It refers to an addicts urge to maintain the high by smoking or injecting more ICE. The binge can last three to fifteen days. During the binge, the addict becomes hyperactive both mentally and physically. Each time the addict smokes or injects more of the drug, he or she will experience another, but smaller rush until, finally, there is no rush and no high.

Tweaking

An ICE addict is most dangerous when experiencing a phase of the addiction called “tweaking”—a condition reached at the end of a drug binge when the ICE no longer provides a rush or a high. Unable to relieve the horrible feelings of emptiness and craving, an abuser loses his sense of identity. Intense itching is common and a user can become convinced that bugs are crawling under his skin. Unable to sleep for days at a time, the addict is often in a completely psychotic state and exists in his own world, often hallucinating. His hallucinations are so vivid that they seem real and, disconnected from reality, he can become hostile and dangerous to himself and others and the potential for self-mutilation is high.

The Crash

To a binge addict, the crash happens when the body shuts down, unable to cope with the drug effects overwhelming it; this results in a long period of sleep for the person. Even the meanest, most violent addict becomes almost lifeless during the crash. The crash can last one to three days.

ICE Hangover

After the crash, the addict returns in a deteriorated state, starved, dehydrated and utterly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. This stage ordinarily lasts from two to fourteen days. This leads to enforced addiction, as the “solution” to these feelings is to take more meth.

Withdrawal

Often thirty to ninety days can pass after the last drug use before the addict realizes that he is in withdrawal. First, there is feelings of depression, energy loss no ability to experience pleasure. Then the craving for more ICE hits, and the addict often becomes suicidal. Since ICE withdrawal is extremely painful and difficult, most abusers revert; thus, 93% of those in traditional treatment return to abusing ICE.

What is in ICE?

There are many dangerous chemicals that go into making  ice, including... 

Acetone

Used in nail polish remover and paint thinner; highly flammable 

Lithium

Used in batteries; reacts violently when mixed with water and is highly explosive

Hydrochloric acid

Used to strip rust from steel; in high concentrations, can eat away at human flesh

Toluene

Used in brake fluid; powerful enough to dissolve rubber

Red phosphorus

Shaved off match boxes by meth cooks; is found in road flares and other explosives

Sodium hydroxide

Used to dispose of road kill because it turns dead bodies into a coffee-like liquid 

Pseudoephedrine

Decongestant affects the nervous system

...Whatever is under the kitchen sink.

The behaviours you should look out for 

Some addicts become exceptionally skilful at hiding their ICE use. Typical ICE addict behaviour can be easily recognised, so some users will try to imitate behaviours of healthy, non-users to fool those around them.

The normal behaviour hoax

Complaining about hunger:  ICE acts as an appetite suppressant, so ice users will not often feel hungry even though they are starving their bodies

Yawning: During a binge, ICE users can stay awake for days at a time thanks to the chemical impact of the drug on the brain. Yawning to feign exhaustion is common. However, when coming down from a high users can sleep for days - be aware of the distinction between these two phases.

Laughing: Sadly, lowered dopamine levels in the brain make it difficult for ICe addicts to feel positive emotions, sometimes permanently. Users often fake smiles and laughter to hide the fact that they do not genuinely feel happiness.

How do I know if someone is using ICE? Here are some signs to look out for

• Check their teeth. Are they looking healthy, normal? Is there signs of decay?

• Ask about their friendship circle – have there been recent changes?

• Are they asking for money? Have their spending habits changed?

• Can you gauge their self-worth? Has it decreased?

• Do they seem to be having paranoid or delusional thoughts?

• How is their hygiene? Do they have strong body odour?

• Is there a smell of ammonia?

• Is there noticeable, sudden weight loss, including muscle mass?

• Does their skin look healthy? Are there noticeable sores?

• Are their pupils normal, or do they look dilated?