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This resource has undergone expert review.

Methamphetamine ("Ice"): Factsheet

  • Methamphetamine
Year: Year 7–8, Year 9–10, Year 11–12

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine comes in three main forms:

methamphetamine crystals
Ice/Crystal meth - Translucent crystals, sometimes shards
methamphetamine crystals
Base - White to brown, thick oily substance
methamphetamine in powder form
Speed - White or off-white powder

All forms of methamphetamine can be ‘cut’ (mixed) with other substances, which reduce the purity. Sometimes these other substances can also be harmful. Methamphetamine is often contained in pills sold as MDMA/ecstasy.

Table 1. This table describes the different forms of methamphetamine, potency, common names and uses.
Form Also known as Potency Mainly used by
Ice/Crystal meth

Shabu, Shabs, Tina, glass, meth, crystal Medium to high; this is normally the most potent form Smoking, injecting
Base

Pure, point, wax, meth Medium to high Swallowing, injecting
Speed

Go-ey, meth Low to medium Snorting, swallowing, injecting

Ice or crystal usually have higher purity than speed, and for this reason it gives a stronger "high" and lasts longer. It also has stronger side effects while using and in the ‘comedown’ or ‘crash’ phase. There is greater potential for methamphetamine users to become dependent (addiction), develop psychosis, and suffer from long-term physical and mental health problems.

Personal Stories

How many young people have tried Methamphetamine?

Majority avoid drugs
According to the 2017 Australian secondary schools' survey, 1 in 100 students (1%) aged 12-17 used amphetamines in the past month.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Is "Ice" use increasing in Australia?

Survey research suggests that methamphetamine use in Australia has not risen significantly in recent years. In fact, usage has been relatively stable since 2007. However, trend data suggests an increase in ice use among users, compared to other forms such as powder or base.

Are harms from "Ice" use increasing in Australia?

While rates of use remain stable, the harms from ice use (e.g. deaths, hospital admissions for dependence and psychosis) have increased.

What are the effects of "Ice"?

Methamphetamine takes effect quickly. The effects can last between 4 and 12 hours, although it can take 1 to 2 days for the drug to completely leave the body.

The effects of alcohol can be immediate or long-term as listed in table 2 below.
Table 2: This table lists Methamphetamine immediate and long-term effects.

Immediate

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Increased energy
  • Feeling of euphoria (a ‘high’)
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Trembling
  • Bad headaches and dizziness
  • A ‘comedown’ (see glossary)
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach cramps
  • Reduced appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.

Long Term

  • Dependence (addiction)
  • Dental problems
  • Heart, kidney and lung problems
  • Malnutrition and exhaustion
  • Depression
  • If injected there is an increased risk of infections like Hepatitis C and HIV
  • Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious and frightened)
  • Psychosis (see glossary)
  • Stroke.

Methamphetamine: Effects on the Body & Mind

Meth effects

Evidence Base

This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, The University of Sydney, and the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW.

For more information about methamphetamine use in Australia and how to get help, visit http://cracksintheice.org.au/.

See detailed attachment for a list of sources for this information. 

  • Credit to 2&2 for the 'Avoiding Drugs?' infographic.

Page last reviewed: 1 November 2019.