Breaking the ICE


There is plenty of attention on ICE, but for those lucky enough not to have used the drug, or have a family member or friend who is addicted, it can be easy to dismiss the drug’s addictive powers and its potential effects.

So, what does ICE do? Why is it the scourge that many are claiming it is? And if you are addicted to ICE, or you have a loved one who is addicted to ICE, what treatment and support is available?

ICE effects

ICE is a member of the family of drugs called amphetamines type stimulants (ATS). Another drug that belongs to the ATS family and is widely abused is speed. Speed has a purity of only 10%, while ICE’s purity can be up to 80%, which makes its symptoms and addictiveness stronger.

Immediate effects of using ICE or other methamphetamines are quite profound. At low doses, they include euphoria, confidence, alertness and motivation. At higher doses, however, symptoms can include aggressiveness, hostility, violence, nervousness, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, psychotic symptoms, stroke and seizures.

Coming down from ICE can also produce serious side effects, such as exhaustion, fatigue, trouble sleeping, mood disturbances, food cravings and generalised aches and pains.

For a person who uses ICE regularly, over time the effects can include decreased motivation, depression, anxiety, poor concentration and memory, psychotic symptoms, agitation, aggression, disturbed speed, weight loss and chest pain.

ICE withdrawal, treatment and support

Withdrawing from ICE can be tough, with withdrawal symptoms usually starting 2 to 4 days after the last use. These symptoms will peak in severity typically over 7 to 10 days and then subside over 2 to 4 weeks… If the person addicted can stay away from the drug that long!

The symptoms can include – apart from strong cravings for the drug – fluctuating mood and energy levels, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, agitation, fatigue, general aches and pains, and muscle tension.

Thankfully, there is a wide range of treatment and support options available for people addicted to ICE who want to break the habit. These include:

  • Withdrawal management programs
  • Stimulant treatment programs
  • Counselling – outpatient, online and phone
  • Residential rehabilitation
  • Mental health services
  • Self-help and peer support programs
  • Family support and therapy

Integrity Sampling has partnered with First Step, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people overcome drug and alcohol abuse and associated health and social issues. First Step offers specialised medical care delivered by doctors, mental health workers, psychologists and social workers. For people living with addiction and substance abuse, First Step gives them a chance to get their lives back in order.

As well as being a great resource for those addicted, and the family and friends of those addicted, First Step also plays an important role for employers by providing a place where they can direct staff who are affected by drug or alcohol issues. Importantly, First Step understands the needs of employers and is committed to creating safe workplaces.

For more information on ICE, go the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website. For more information about First Step, click here.

ICE is an awful drug but there is support available for those who are addicted.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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