Ice Addiction and Abuse

What is Ice?

Ice is a variant of methamphetamine that is highly purified.  It’s a stimulant that is often smoked by users but can also be injected or snorted. It is a stronger, more addictive and ultimately more harmful version of methamphetamine. If you use it, you can become euphoric, energetic and also experience a false feeling of confidence.  This ‘high’ from Ice can last for as little as half an hour or as long as a whole day. The high is usually longer than that experienced with cocaine.  You are also most likely to go without sleep and food for as long as the Ice supply remains.

This is why severe exhaustion is one of the main features of Ice wearing off. You may also be anxious and depressed.  These feelings form the core of cravings for more Ice. Most users end up doing literally anything to get Ice and use it again. Ice users can also become more violent, experiencing severe mood swings. This is part of the reason why they approach crime with a high level of aggression and confidence.

Other names for Ice

Ice is known by several other names, such as shabu, crystal meth, shard, glass and d-meth.

Types of Ice

There is only one known form of Ice, which is the crystal clear finished product. However, it is not uncommon to find modified variants going by names chosen by the drug dealers. Don’t forget that the drug is solely synthetic.

Causes of Ice Addiction

If you use Ice, you’ll get a powerful ‘rush’ which is caused by the release of the chemical known as dopamine, in the part of the brain responsible for regulating the feelings of pleasure. This causes feelings of confidence and energy but is also the reason why you are likely to become instantly addicted. That the levels of dopamine released in your brain can never be attained naturally will leave you instantly craving for the rush again after the Ice has worn off, hence the addiction.  As you continue to yield to the cravings, you’ll continue to sink deeper into the addiction as a result of rising tolerance.  It is important to note that it’s difficult to replicate the first feeling of Ice usage. This is why people slip into dosage increases in order to achieve it, thereby exposing themselves to a high level of risk.

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Methods of Ice Usage

Since Ice comes in powder form, it can be used in three major ways: snorting, smoking and injecting into the blood. As is the case with other similar substances, the injected Ice is often the fastest-acting.  Some Ice addicts have also reported the oral use of the drug.

What Does It Mean to Be Addicted to Ice?

Being addicted to Ice is a state where you are unable to operate without the regular use of the drug.  At this stage, you will also be exhibiting all the symptoms of Ice withdrawal.

Ice Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

If you’re under the influence of Ice, you may exhibit any or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Superficial euphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heavy sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Elevate breathing
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate, which can lead to heart attack
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irrational and unpredictable behaviour
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth and bad breath
  • Tremors
  • Nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Engaging in repetitive meaningless tasks
  • Violent behaviour
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory abnormalities

How to Spot Ice Abuse

Looking at the signs and symptoms mentioned above, you can identify Ice abuse if you are the user.  If you’re trying to establish Ice abuse in a loved one or family member on the other hand, there are other tell-tale signs and symptoms you should watch out for. If you are able to establish the abuse early enough, you can get professional help and prevent further deepening dependence.  You can spot Ice abuse by watching for the following in the user:

  • Skin or hair pinching
  • Significant reduction in appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dilated pupils and inexplicable excitement
  • Rapid eye movements and inability to focus
  • Lack of sleep
  • Wild swings in mannerisms
  • Paranoia
  • Wild and inexplicable outbursts and irritability

The above are early symptoms you should watch out for. However, if the crystal meth abuse has gone on for far too long, there will be other significant changes in appearance, such as the more commonly known ‘meth mouth’ (which is a combination of dental decay and tooth loss) and abscesses on the skin.

When you’ve established the fact that someone close to you abuses Ice, you need to manage the situation carefully.  Help them understand the dangers of their actions and make them see the reasons why they should talk to an addiction counsellor.

Short-Term Effects of Ice Abuse

The short-term effects of Ice use include nausea, irregular sleeping patterns, dilation of pupils, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, loss of appetite, hallucinations, irritability, panic and psychosis, convulsions, seizures and sudden death from overdose.

Long-Term Effects of Ice Abuse

The long-term effects of Ice abuse include: organ damage (liver, lungs and kidney), nose tissue destruction (with snorted application), respiratory problems (if smoked), contraction of infectious diseases and abscesses (if injected), extreme tooth decay, brain damage, depression, confusion and exhaustion, weight loss and blood vessels damage leading to death.

Remember, you don’t have to suffer the long-term effects of Ice abuse. Get in touch with us right away to get the help you need.

Co-Occurring Disorders

If you are addicted to Ice, it’s highly likely that you will also be suffering from a range of mood-related disorders. These are known as co-occurring disorders and tend to make it more difficult to treat the addiction.  Some of these co-occurring disorders that are likely to be present in Ice-addicted individuals include insomnia, hypomania, depression and attention deficit disorder. These disorders can be treated individually, but in many cases, addiction treatment also takes care of them at the same time.

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Teen Ice Abuse

Ice is another substance that is a source of concern for parents with teenagers.  As long as labs where Ice and other drugs are created still exist around the world, teenagers at school or attending parties will always be exposed to such substances. This can lead to addiction.  With this particular group, the curiosity to witness the euphoria that comes with taking the substance is the chief push towards Ice. However, some of them use it for various other reasons, such as staying up late at night or losing weight.  The behaviour of different teens under the influence of Ice varies a great deal. While some are highly active and boisterous, others are more reserved. However, as soon as the effects wear off, the signs of cravings can be visible to any keen observer.  If at any point you feel your child is using Ice, study them more closely and look for the signs and symptoms mentioned here. When the abuse has been established, talk to them calmly about the need for professional therapy.

Helping your Ice-using teen

The best way to help your teen if they are abusing Ice is to stage an intervention. An intervention is a structured conversation between you and the teen. Successful intervention will get your teen to talk to you about the reasons behind their Ice usage, why they can’t stop and any other concerns they might have. It will also give you the chance to help them see the need to embrace Ice addiction treatment. However, for this process to yield any results, you need to know all the signs of Ice addiction.

Positive uses of Ice

In some cases, Ice is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity. However, this is under the thorough supervision and often balanced out with other treatments that reduce the probability of addiction. Besides this, there is no positive use for Ice. Every other reason you have for abusing Ice can be handled using other non-addictive and harmless solutions. Talk to an Ice addiction expert today for guidance.

Cost of Ice Addiction

Ice is costly to produce and this is passed down to the end users. An Ice user can spend been £20,000 and £50,000 servicing their addiction every year. This is why low-income earners that become addicted to the substance often resort to crime in order to fund the addiction.

The Effects of Ice Abuse on the Brain

The effects of Ice are concentrated on the brain, which is why it is heavily affected by Ice addiction and abuse. Taking Ice affects the brain by causing the damage and death of neurones. It also leads to a reduction in the white matter in the brain and severely alters the production of dopamine and serotonin.

Ice Overdose explained

Ice overdose is what happens when the body cannot process large doses of the substance, consumed within a short period of time.  As you keep increasing doses to reach a certain level of ‘high’, your body will also continue building tolerance. This, in turn, leads to the need for higher doses to reach your desired level of high. One day, you will consume one dose too many in the chase for the high, which is classed as an overdose. When this happens, you will be very anxious and unable to breathe. Chest pain, heart attack and stroke are some more common end results of Ice overdose. In heavier overdose cases, seizures and kidney failure could be the end result.

Ice Withdrawal

As is the case with other addictive substances of its class, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you are dependent on Ice. Withdrawal is often uncomfortable and is the reason why many people are unsuccessful with trying to quit Ice use on their own. The resultant effects of withdrawal can also be fatal without supervision.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

The severity of the symptoms will be dependent on your level of addiction and how long you’ve used the substance. Some of the main withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, increased heartbeat and high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, psychosis and suicidal behaviour.

Ice Withdrawal Timeline

The Ice withdrawal timeline is made up of three major sections: the crash, the cravings and the recovery. In general, these stages can span a period of 40 weeks. This elongated timeline is why it takes professional planning and concerted efforts to fully withdraw and detoxify from Ice. The slow and scary withdrawal timeline should not keep you from seeking help though.

Ice Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with Ice addiction, you will need to get in touch with addiction specialists to break free. You’ll be expected to be completely honest about your Ice usage, after which you’ll be placed on a treatment programme, either at home or in a rehab facility.

Ice Abuse Detox

Treatment for Ice abuse often begins with detoxification. This involves getting rid of any Ice in the body. The detoxification process is challenging, because of the accompanying effects of withdrawal. The process begins with tests to determine the severity of the addiction. This is why only qualified professionals are allowed to undertake the detox process, which helps reduce the chances of any fatal complications arising. These professionals have handled similar cases and know what to expect at every turn.

This stage of treatment can last between a week and a month, depending on the level of Ice addiction.  When detox is completed, the next step is rehabilitation. During the rehabilitation process, all underlying issues of your addiction will be dealt with. Rehabilitation will feature all or some of the following at some point, depending on the level of abuse: Cognitive behavioural therapy, 12-Step Programmes, support groups and other alternative therapies such as art, music therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and more.

Medical Detox for Ice Abuse

There are no officially approved medications for Ice detox, but the use of antidepressants in the detox process is common. Such drugs are used to treat co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression.

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Rehab for Ice Abuse

Rehab for Ice abuse is provided on an outpatient and inpatient basis. If you have a long-term history of Ice abuse, you may be best served to opt for inpatient rehab to be sure you get the best possible treatment. The best rehab solutions for Ice are tailored to the specific needs of the patient. During rehab, programmes you may be exposed to include behavioural therapy, alternative therapy and medication (if necessary).  If you are yet to start exhibiting signs of heavy Ice abuse, you may be best choosing outpatient rehab. In such cases, a treatment plan will be fashioned around your day to day activities.

Unsure if you should go with inpatient or outpatient Ice rehab? Talk to a professional today!

Possible Complications in Ice Detox

Ice users looking to quit are often worried about possible fatal complications. However, there is a very slim chance of those occurring. Ice detox can be dangerous, but only when the dehydration that can occur during the process is left unmanaged. This is why it’s important to undergo detox under professional supervision. Professionals are trained to watch out for any complications and to manage such complications effectively.

Ice Recovery Plan

Ice recovery cannot be achieved without a properly drafted plan. At a minimum, the recovery plan will feature processes that account for withdrawal and detox, as well as include a carefully targeted plan to avoid relapse. This can only be achieved by working with professionals who will not only draft the recovery plan but also help you walk through it every step of the way.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you use Ice regularly, you need to see a medical professional. Do not wait until the addiction signs and symptoms have become obvious. If you are using Ice twice a week right now, it will most likely lead to using it five times a week within a short period of time. It’s extremely difficult to go from regular use to no use at all. This is why you should see a medical professional right away!

Ice Addiction Statistics

There are concerns that the popularity of Ice started to soar after the TV show Breaking Bad brought attention to Meth and all its various forms. However, figures released in 2014 showed that the use of Ice and related variants accounted for less than 0.5% of all drug abuse cases in the UK. This means that the Ice problem is still miles away from becoming as problematic as more popular substances, such as cocaine.  However, arrests related to Ice in the UK climbed to a record 500% recently.


What is Ice?

Ice is a highly potent form of methamphetamine. It is also known as crystal meth, meth, shard, and glass amongst other names.

How is Ice Used?

Ice can be smoked, snorted or injected directly into the bloodstream. 

What Does Ice Look Like?

Ice comes in a small crystal-like form, hence the name. It is then smashed up or liquefied for use.

Who Abuses Ice?

There’s no clear-cut demographic for who can abuse Ice. Women, men, teenagers, rich and poor, all use Ice. Anyone at risk of being exposed to the substance can become addicted in the long run.

How Can I Spot Ice Addiction?

You can spot Ice addiction by watching for tell-tale signs such as ‘meth mouth’, unexplained weight loss, skin or hair pinching, dilated pupils, rapid eye movements, paranoia, insomnia etc.

Is Ice Harmful?

Yes. Like every addictive substance, Ice can destroy your life. The harmful effects become more prominent as you keep using the substance. If left unchecked, the harmful effects can be fatal.

Are there different forms of Ice?

There are no other forms of Ice in its real form. However, there are other forms of the underlying substance, such as the more popular methamphetamine and amphetamine, which may be available in pill form.

How does Ice affect the brain?

When you take Ice, your brain is triggered to release dopamine and norepinephrine in very large quantities. This leads to the distortion of how your brain understands pleasure, making it difficult for you to achieve it naturally. The end result is the constant need to take Ice in order to feel pleasure.

Are there other health effects of Ice?

Some of the health effects of Ice include psychosis, depression, anxiety, fear, heart and respiratory diseases, as well as weight-loss.

What if I am around Ice users?

There have been no reports of second-hand exposure to Ice usage. However, it’s in your best interests to steer clear of such environments. Even if the second-hand exposure is harmless, you could be putting yourself in a position to be placed under pressure to try Ice.

Can a person overdose on Ice?

Yes. As soon as you take large doses, your body will instantly start to struggle to break it down. When it can no longer cope, it could lead to fatal consequences.

Why is it hard to break away from Ice abuse?

Addictive substances such as Ice interact with the brain, which is the core of the central nervous system. When the substance has interacted for too long with the system, it causes it to actively seek the substance. It’s at this point that Ice withdrawal symptoms kick in and make it difficult for you to stay away from the substance for extended periods.

Is Ice Addictive?

Yes. The fact that the substance acts on the brain’s dopamine controls makes it highly addictive.

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