Ice Addiction: Does the UK Have a Problem?

Ice is another name for the crystal form of methamphetamine, a faster acting and more addictive version of the more commonly available drug speed (amphetamine). Ice does not appear in the news in the UK nearly as much as in other countries, Australia having a particular problem with Ice Addiction, but does that mean it is not an issue here?

What Effects Does Ice Have?

The effects of methamphetamine are similar to those of amphetamine but more pronounced and appear more quickly. Both drugs are stimulants and give the user feelings of increased alertness and concentration, feelings of euphoria and increased energy. Both drugs also reduce appetite (amphetamine is still used in some ‘diet pills’ in America), and long-term use can result in severe weight loss and malnutrition. Higher doses of methamphetamine can cause delusions and hallucinations, seizures, bleeding in the brain (due to burst blood vessels), and the breakdown of skeletal muscle (due to lack of sufficient food intake).

Methamphetamine is highly addictive, with some users becoming addicted to the drug after a single use. Users also rapidly develop tolerance to the effects of methamphetamine, and so will take increasingly higher doses to try and gain the same effects; this leads to increased risk of overdose.

The effects of withdrawal from methamphetamine are severe, and the long-term withdrawal effects can last for several months after the acute stage has passed. The effects of withdrawal include intense cravings for the drug as well as anxiety and depression and increased appetite. Those going through withdrawal from methamphetamine also experience conflicting symptoms of tiredness and restlessness, increased or decreased movement, and sleeplessness or sleepiness. These conflicting symptoms can alternate for the same person and can be quite difficult to cope with.

So How Big a Problem Is Ice Addiction in the UK?

Methamphetamine has become very popular in areas parts of the world, with parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the US and Eastern Europe having particularly high levels of use.

The prevalence of methamphetamine use in Eastern Europe dates back to the Second World War when pharmaceutical companies in the Czech Republic manufactured the drug for administration to troops to help them remain alert. When the war ended, production continued, with the illegal production continuing to this day.

In Australia, methamphetamine is readily available and has been linked to a substantial number of deaths, particularly at illegal ‘bush parties’.

In comparison, the UK sees relatively low levels of methamphetamine use and suggested reasons for this have included the relatively small drug market here compared to larger countries, coupled with the ready availability of many other drugs – most of which are considerably cheaper than methamphetamine. The relative lack of large, open spaces for ‘meth labs’ has also been suggested as a reason, although these have been found in the UK hidden away in people’s houses or in industrial units.

The relatively low level of use in the UK does not mean that methamphetamine is not a problem, though. Concerns that the hit TV series Breaking Bad, which shows a high school chemistry teacher producing and selling methamphetamine to pay his medical bills, initially seemed unfounded, but last year saw a 500% increase in the number of arrests linked to the drug. The TV show has undoubtedly increased levels of interest in the substance, with high school chemistry teachers here fielding questions about the drug and how to make it when the show first aired.

Although the initial furore seems to have died down, there is no doubt that there has been an increase in the drug’s use in this country. Seizures of the drug across Europe have been increasing, and UK border patrols have seen a 400% increase in seizures in the last few years. Although at present use of Ice seems to be confined to a relatively small group of people, historically we have seen other drugs expand from similar groups to become more commonly used. The concern is that the same pattern could be seen with Ice.

Where Can I Get Help with Ice Addiction?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to Ice, then it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. Withdrawal from this drug is difficult and experienced medical assistance is important to make the detox process as safe and successful as possible. Here at Addiction Helper, we can help you to find the right treatment for your situation, so please contact us today.


(The Independent) Has there been a rise in the use of crystal meth? Or are we more aware of the drug?

(Daily Mail) Britain Breaks Bad: Crystal meth sweeps the UK as arrests linked to the killer drug soar 500% in just five years

(BBC) Breaking Bad: Why doesn’t the UK have a crystal meth problem?

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