What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine comes in three main forms:
Ice/Crystal meth - Translucent crystals, sometimes shards
Base - White to brown, thick oily substance
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 on the illicit drug market as MDMA/ecstasy.
||Also known as
||Mainly used by
||Shabu, Shabs, Tina, glass, meth, crystal
||Medium to high; this is normally the most potent form
||Pure, point, wax, meth
||Medium to high
||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 more potent side effects during use and in the ‘comedown’ or ‘crash’ phase. There is greater potential for methamphetamine users to develop dependence (addiction), psychosis, as well as long-term physical and mental health problems.
How many young people have tried it?
According to the 2014 Australian secondary schools' survey, 1 in 52 students (1.9%) aged 12-17 used amphetamines last year.
Is "Ice" use increasing in Australia?
Survey research suggests that methamphetamine use in Australia has not risen significantly in recent years, with rates of use reported to be relatively stable since 2007. However, trend data suggests an increase in preference for crystal methamphetamine (ice) use among users, compared to other forms of methamphetamine (e.g. powder, base).
Are harms from "Ice" use increasing in Australia?
While rates of use remain stable, the harms from ice use (e.g. hospital admissions for dependence and psychosis) have increased, aligning with the shift to higher potency forms of methamphetamine (ice) and increases in regular and dependant use.
What are the effects?
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.
Methamphetamine is a very unpredictable drug. Toxic (and sometimes fatal) reactions can occur regardless of the amount used, whether the person is a first-time, occasional or regular user. Methamphetamine is more addictive than most other drugs, especially when taken in crystal form.
Effects of methamphetamine vary, but may include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Dilated (enlarged) pupils
- Increased energy
- Feeling of euphoria (a ‘high’)
- Aggressive behaviour
- Bad headaches and dizziness
- A ‘comedown’ (see glossary)
- Stomach cramps
- Reduced appetite
- Blurred vision
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Dependence (addiction)
- Dental problems
- Heart, kidney and lung problems
- Malnutrition and exhaustion
- If injected there is an increased risk of infections like Hepatitis C and HIV
- Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious and frightened)
- Psychosis (see glossary)
Methamphetamine: Effects on the Body & Mind
This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use and 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.