Ice Breaker

You always know what you are taking when you use ice

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"I have seen ice destroy the lives of my friends and family"

Measuring ice use in the population is difficult. The data we include here come from a number of sources, including population surveys, and hospital and other treatment centre data. Many people report higher rates in their communities than are reflected in general population surveys. What is clear is that the impact of ice on many communities around Australia is significant.

How many people use ice?

A recent survey of Australians (aged 14 or over) found 2.1% had used methamphetamine (including ice, speed or base) in the past 12 months. Among recent methamphetamine users, just over half (51%) reported using ice (crystal methamphetamine) compared to 29% mainly using powder (speed).

1 in 50 people have used methamphetamine in the past year


How often do people use METHAMPHETAMINES, INCLUDING ice?

Of those who had used methamphetamines (including ice) in the past 12 months:

15.5% used weekly or daily
16.6% used once a month
19.8% used every few months
48% used 1-2 TIMES

Is ice use increasing in Australia?

It has been difficult to determine whether methamphetamine use (including ice use) in Australia has increased. Data from a large household survey suggest that overall rates of methamphetamine (including ice) use in the general population have remained stable over the past 5 years. However,  data from hospital records, indicate that rates of regular and dependent methamphetamine use have increased over that time. Additionally, the number of regular users who report using crystal methamphetamine (ice) as their main form of methamphetamine has increased from 22 to 50%, while reports of speed use have decreased (from 50 to 28%). The number of individuals reporting smoking as the main route of administration has also increased (from 19 to 40%). Among injecting drug users there has been a 6% increase in crystal methamphetamine (ice) use, and a 5% decrease in speed use, from 2014 to 2015. These data suggest that, among methamphetamine users, ice is becoming a more popular form of the drug.

From 2010 to 2013 among regular METHAMPHETAMINE users, there has been:


Are harms from ice use increasing in Australia?

When looking at population data it is difficult to separate harms specifically related to ice use from harms related to other forms of methamphetamine use. However, data from a number of sources indicate use-related harms have increased (e.g. methamphetamine-related helpline calls, drug and alcohol treatment episodes and hospital admissions for methamphetamine abuse, dependence and psychosis) . Increases in harms most likely reflect increases in regular and dependent use, as well as shifts from using less potent (e.g. speed) to more potent (e.g. crystal) forms of methamphetamine.

How does ice use compare to other drug use in Australia?

As shown in the image below, methamphetamine is not the most commonly used drug in Australia. This diagram shows the proportion of Australians in 2013 who had used the following substances in the past 12 months:

alcohol 78.2%
tobacco 15.8%
cannabis 10.2%
ecstasy 2.5%
painkillers* 3.3%
cocaine 2.1%
methamphetamine 2.1%
heroin 0.1%
steroids* 0.1%

*For non-medical purposes


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Drug statistics series no. 25. Canberra: AIHW.

Degenhardt, L., Larney, S., Chan, G., Dobbins, T., Weier, M., Roxburgh, A., Hall, W., McKetin, R. (2016) Estimating the number of regular and dependent methamphetamine users in Australia, 2002-2014. Medical Journal of Australia: 204 (4).

Degenhardt, L. , Sara, G., McKetin, R., Roxburgh, A., Dobbins, T., Farrell, M., Burns, L., Hall, W. Crystalline methamphetamine use and methamphetamine-related harms in Australia. Drug and Alcohol Review. Jun 11. doi: 10.1111/dar.12426. [Epub ahead of print]

Stafford, J. & Burns, L. (2015). Australian Drug Trends 2015: Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS). Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales.