Ice is the purest and most addictive form of the methamphetamine group of illicit drugs.

Addictions can develop because ice is able to trick and then trap the brain.

Also called crystal meth, ice makes the brain release up to 1,000 times the normal level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter (natural chemical) that controls the brain’s pleasure centres. This dopamine spike makes things feel exhilarating, and you also feel more confident and energetic. The trick is that the ‘high’ lasts 4-12 hours until the brain has used up all of its dopamine stores. then you feel low, tired and irritable until your dopamine levels come back to normal a few days later.

The trap is that long-term use causes the brain to wear out and stop producing dopamine. So you need more ice to get the same ‘high’ and trying to kick a dependency (addiction) is difficult due to an inability to feel normal pleasure. It can take up to two years for your brain’s dopamine response to normalise.

What to do?

Ice is a growing danger in Australia, with use more than doubling from 2010 to 2013.

It’s estimated that 2.5% of over 14 year olds have ever used methamphetamine drugs, compared to 9% for cannabis. Up to one in seven users of methamphetamines become dependent.

People most likely to be users are 20-29 year olds, male and employed.

A tell tale sign of regular ice usage is a small glass pipe which users typically carry on them to smoke the drug.

If you’re dependent or think someone you know is dependent, speak to a trusted expert for advice, such as your GP.

Keep in mind that an ice ‘high’ can go wrong and cause behaviour such as extreme anxiety, aggression or paranoia. The best time to give advice to an ice user is after they calm down and the drug wears off.

For more information visit: www.drugs.health.gov.au