Signs and Symptoms of Ice Abuse

Ice meth

Ice is a purified form of methamphetamine. Much of the ice in the US and Australia come from larger scale methamphetamine labs such as those in Mexico. Most small-scale methamphetamine cooks are currently using the “shake and bake” method of manufacturing powder meth, which is not as pure and is not formed into the crystals that constitute ice.

Ice is present across the United States, the UK, Thailand and in Australia.

Because the meth is purer in this form, it can be smoked. Powder meth can be ingested or dissolved and injected. Ice will look like shards of glass, either clear or dirty-looking. The person who has been abusing ice may leave small glass pipes around or small plastic bags that contained the crystals.

Ice is a strong stimulant. The user is likely to manifest euphoria, excitement and a sense of well-being that can last from an hour to a full day, and they will seem alert and confident. Their energy will be high and can last as long as the ice supplies last.

But they are likely to also have high blood pressure and sleeping problems. The ice user will be inclined to skip meals for as long as they are high from the meth and so will lose weight. When the ice wears off, they are likely to feel depressed and anxious.

Methamphetamine is Very Fast‑Acting

Smoking Ice

When meth in the form of ice is smoked, it takes effect within just a few seconds. It may be hours before a meth user needs to smoke more, as opposed to a cocaine or crack user who may disappear more frequently to continue their intoxication.

A person smoking ice may continue their high for days, never sleeping, eating little or nothing. If the drug runs out, the person is likely to crash and sleep very long hours, and they may also be very hungry, anxious and depressed.

Ice and Crime

Reports from law enforcement agencies in the US and Australia link ice use to crime. A person high on meth may feel confident that they can successfully commit a crime. They may be delusional about their ability to commit the crime or the justification for the crime. They will appear alert and may be willing to be aggressive in the commission of the crime.

But the use of ice brings with it paranoia, hallucinations and violent behavior. In addition, a person smoking ice is likely to neglect to care for their children, and they may abuse them or endanger them. Some people who have smoked ice have attacked children or family members in a paranoid rage, sometimes resulting in death. The actions of an ice abuser or addict are highly unpredictable. The person may exhibit enormous strength far beyond what they normally possess.

In particular with ice, the dangers of the use of this drug extend far beyond harm to the drug user.

Physical Effects of Ice

The ice user may exhibit a noticeable rise in body temperature. There will be a fast heart rate. The person may manifest damage to their teeth or sores in various places on the body. The person may pick at their skin because of a hallucination that there are bugs crawling under their skin. This can result in broken skin, particularly on the face and arms. After extended use, the user will probably appear gaunt and prematurely aged.

The ice smoker who gets too much of the drug can get overheated and even suffer convulsions and uncontrollable movements.

Helping the Ice Addict

Ice is perhaps the most addictive drug on the illicit market. Some people become addicted after just one use. The need for the drug becomes so compelling that all other cares and needs may be neglected.

A thorough drug rehabilitation program is needed, preferably residential and longer-term to give this person a chance to get away from the drug and really learn how to live drug-free in the future.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has had success helping ice addicts learn how to live drug-free again. An essential component of the Narconon recovery program is the Narconon New Life Detoxification. This action uses a dry sauna, generous nutritional supplements and moderate daily exercise to flush old, stored drug toxins out of the body. These stored toxins have been found to be involved in the triggering of cravings, even years after drug use has ceased. According to a recent peer-reviewed study, the combination of nutrition and sauna in the New Life Detoxification helps alleviate post-acute withdrawal symptoms as well as reduce cravings.

Recovering addicts often state that their cravings are lowered and sometimes even gone after this detoxification step. This is a vital part of learning to live a productive enjoyable life without ice.

If you are trying to help someone who is addicted to ice, call today to find out how Narconon can help.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP

Sign up free to receive our email newsletter: