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What is Ice drug? Street Names, Effects, Risks, Overdose, Withdrawal & Addiction

What is ice drug?

Crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’, ice drug) is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and the body. It’s stronger, more addictive, and therefore has more harmful side effects than the powder form of methamphetamine known as speed.

Ice usually comes as small chunky clear crystals that look like ice. It can also come as a white or brownish crystal-like powder with a strong smell and bitter taste.

Other names for ice drug

Crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard, P.

How is the ice drug used?

Ice is generally smoked (feel the effect almost immediately) or injected (15 to 30 seconds to feel the effects). It is sometimes swallowed (15 to 20 minutes to feel the effects) or snorted (3 to 5 minutes to feel the effects).

Effects of the ice drug

There is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug. The effects of ice can last for up to 12 hours, but it might be hard to sleep for a few days after using the drug.

ice drug
Ice usually comes as small chunky clear crystals that look like ice. It can also come as a white or brownish crystal-like powder with a strong smell and bitter taste.

Ice drug affects everyone differently, but effects may include:

  • Feelings of pleasure and confidence
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Repeating simple things like itching and scratching
  • Enlarged pupils and dry mouth
  • Teeth grinding and excessive sweating
  • Fast heart rate and breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Increased sex drive.

If injecting drugs there is an increased risk of:

  • Tetanus
  • Infection
  • Vein damage.

If sharing needles there is an increased risk of:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV and AIDS

Snorting ice can damage the nasal passage and cause nose bleeds.

Ice Drug Overdose

If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose. Call an ambulance straight away by dialing triple zero (000) if you have any of these symptoms (ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police):

  • Racing heartbeat and chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Fits or uncontrolled jerking
  • Extreme agitation, confusion, clumsiness
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Unconsciousness
  • Stroke, heart attack or death.

Coming down from ice drug

It can take several days to come down from using ice. The following effects may be experienced during this time:

  • Ddifficulty sleeping and exhaustion
  • Headaches, dizziness and blurred vision
  • Paranoia, hallucinations and confusion
  • Irritability and feeling ‘down’.

Using a depressant drug such as alcoholbenzodiazepines, or cannabis to help with the come-down effects may result in a cycle of dependence on both types of drugs.

Long-term effects of the ice drug

With regular use, ice may eventually cause:

  • Extreme weight loss due to reduced appetite
  • Restless sleep
  • Dry mouth and dental problems
  • Regular colds or flu
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Breathlessness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Dependence on ice
  • Anxiety, paranoia and violence
  • Depression
  • Heart and kidney problems
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Needing to use more to get the same effect
  • Financial, work or social problems.

Ice drug psychosis

High doses of ice drug and frequent use may result in a psychological condition known as ‘ice psychosis’, characterized by paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre, aggressive, or violent behavior. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using ice.


People who regularly use ice drug can quickly become dependent on the drug. They may feel they need ice to go about their normal activities like working, studying, socializing, or just to get through the day.

Mental health problems

Some people who regularly use ice may start to feel less enjoyment of everyday activities. They can get stressed easily and their moods can go up and down quite quickly. These changes can lead to longer-term problems with anxiety and depression. People may feel these effects for at least several weeks or months after they give up the ice drug.

Mixing ice with other drugs

The effects of taking the ice with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:

  • Ice + speed or ecstasy: enormous strain on the heart and other parts of the body, which can lead to stroke.
  • Ice + alcohol, cannabis or benzodiazepines: enormous strain on the body, and more likely to overdose. The stimulant effects of ice may mask the effects of depressant drugs like benzodiazepines and can increase the risk of overdose.
Ice drug
High doses of the ice drug and frequent use may result in a psychological condition known as ‘ice psychosis’, characterized by paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre, aggressive, or violent behavior.

Withdrawal from Ice Drug

Giving up ice after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms generally settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms can include:

  • Cravings for ice
  • Increased appetite
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Restless sleep and nightmares
  • Anxiety, depression and paranoia

The Difference Between the Ice Drug (Crystal Meth) & Meth

Methamphetamine is a highly potent stimulant known for its euphoric effects. The drug comes in different forms: from pills and odorless powders to oily brown substances. However, none are as potent as crystal meth, which is also known as ice.

Crystal meth looks like small clear crystals, hence the name. Ice is a purer and stronger form of methamphetamine. That’s because it is a stimulant drug. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, continued use of ice can result in more harmful effects than powdered meth, which is also known as speed.

Ice, unlike speed and other base forms of the drug, is usually made with little to no additives, giving users a long, lingering euphoria that can last up to 24 hours. People may feel various side effects when they’re coming down from their use of ice. Hallucinations, dizziness, blurred visions, irritability, and exhaustion are some of them, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The effects of ice aren’t always predictable because quality control isn’t really a priority in the production of this illegal drug. If it gets mixed with other substances, people who use the drug may experience varying effects. Some of the symptoms of potential overdose are extreme agitation, panic attacks, chest pain, dehydration, seizures, unconsciousness, and stroke. Make sure to contact health services if someone is exhibiting these symptoms.

An Overview of Ice Drug Addiction

All forms of methamphetamine will give its users a rush of energy. However, the speed and strength of this “rush” vary. The same goes for the risks. People who use ice, for instance, are bound to experience stronger, fast-acting effects. This can lead to binges, where a person takes another dose as the effects of a previous dose of the drug begin to wear off.

People who use crystal methamphetamine can quickly get addicted to the drug if they are in it for the rush. The more they use ice, the higher their tolerance levels will get. That means they will need to take higher doses to achieve the same kind of high. The higher the dose and the more frequent the drug use, the greater their risk of ice addiction.

Why Is Ice Drug Addictive?

Ice is addictive because it directly impacts your body’s release of hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine regulates reasoning, movements, and happiness. Serotonin, meanwhile, also elicits pleasure. From the moment a person smokes ice, these hormones are instantly bolstered. Neurological studies show that ice can increase dopamine levels by as much as 1,000%.

They get a sense of euphoria and drive. They suddenly enjoy the environment around them and feel like they can achieve anything. These effects last from 8 to 24 hours. But when the effects wear off, the person will suddenly experience a deficit of these neurotransmitters and will be compelled to use it again. In most cases, they need another dose to be able to function.

Ice drug
People who use crystal methamphetamine (Ice) can quickly get addicted to the drug if they are in it for the rush.

People who feel depressed, have low family support, or don’t feel particularly happy when they are not high are particularly vulnerable. Continued use of ice deteriorates the brain’s natural ability to produce ‘happy’ hormones. Eventually, the person will need a hit of ice to simply get through the day. They may feel that they need ice to go about daily activities like working, studying, socializing, and even just interacting with other people.

This state of dependence can damage areas of the brain that control physical movements and reactions to everyday life.

The Effects of Ice Drug Addiction

Most people who use ice are in it for the promising euphoria and confidence boost that they get at a relatively affordable price. Ice can raise a person’s body temperature to an alarming level, which can often be fatal to users. The drug can also make a person’s skin look dull and older. Often, people with an ice addiction will develop pimples and sores that won’t heal easily. Over time, their teeth will stain and rot as well.

Aside from the physical effects of ice drug addiction, it also has consequences on mental health. People who use this form of methamphetamine may experience various short-term and long-term mental health problems while they are high or coming down from ice.

Short-term effects of ice include substance-induced psychosis, panic attacks, confusion, mood swings, and insomnia. Meanwhile, constant use of ice will lead to long-term mental health consequences such as dependence on the drug, paranoia, depression, and psychosis.

Reclaim Your Life From Ice Drug Addiction

Ice drug addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social, and even economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from ice addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013, September). Methamphetamine.

[2] McKetin, R. (2016). NDARC Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine.

[3] Cracks in the Ice. (2017, April 7). Using ice with other drugs.