Ice Breaker
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Crystal methamphetamine, or 'ice', is a synthetic stimulant drug and variant of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine typically comes in three different forms (ice, base and speed) that vary in their appearance and potency.

Crystal methamphetamine is one of the most potent varieties of the drug and is usually colourless and odourless. The name ‘ice’ became popular due to the drug’s form of white little ‘crystals’ and glass-like appearance.

The effects of ice differ slightly from speed and base because it is often a purer form of methamphetamine, meaning it gives a stronger and longer lasting ‘high’. Because of this, it also has more potent and serious side effects, both during use and in the 'comedown' or ‘crash’ phase after use. This is why, compared to other forms of methamphetamine, ice has a greater potential for the person using the drug to develop dependence, psychosis, and other long-term physical and mental health problems. For more information about the effects of ice on the brain and body, visit “how does ice work” and “mental health effects”. 

The use of ice can affect people differently and may be more problematic for some people than others. The impact of ice also depends on how much is taken, the purity of the drug, how the drug is taken (e.g. injection, smoking) and the persons physical and mental health. Repeated use of ice builds up tolerance requiring higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same effects.

Ice is usually sold in points (0.1g) or grams and can be cut (mixed) with other substances. This reduces its purity and makes its effects even more unpredictable. People may also take other substances at the same time as ice, for example, drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis. The more substances a person takes (or is affected by) at a time, the more chance there is of something going wrong. For more information, visit “using ice with other drugs”.

In the past decade or so, Australia has seen an increase in the use of ice as the main form of methamphetamine. For more information about the prevalence and trends of methamphetamine (including ice) use in Australia, please visit “how many people use ice”.


Australian Drug Foundation. (2016). Amphetamines. Retrieved from:

Peck, Y., Clough, A.R., Culshaw, P.N., & Liddell, M.J. (2019). Multi-drug cocktails: Impurities in commonly used illicit drugs seized by police in Queensland, Australia. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 201, p49–57. DOI:

Page last reviewed: Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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