Ice is a slang name for crystal methamphetamine – a stimulant drug that is swallowed, smoked or injected. Ice is also called shabu, tina, T, crystal and meth.
It is usually made overseas – from the ingredients pseudoephedrine, iodine and hypophosphorous acid – and imported illegally into Australia. But because the ingredients can be legally imported, ice can also be made here in large quantities.
Ice has been around for years, but a powdered form of methamphetamine called speed was more commonly used in Australia up until about 2010, when ice became more available. Speed and ice are chemically the same drug but instead of a powder, ice is produced in a crystal form that is stronger than speed.
How It Works
Because ice is more likely to be smoked than other types of methamphetamines, it enters the bloodstream quickly, which means the effect is faster and stronger than if it were swallowed or snorted. Injecting ice works as quickly as smoking it.
Ice travels to the brain, activating the reward (dopamine) pathway. This is the centre of the brain involved in motivation, euphoria and compulsion.
Ice causes increased amounts of the chemical dopamine to be released, and for long-term users, it becomes difficult to feel pleasure when not intoxicated by ice. This is because the usual pleasurable activities, such as eating chocolate, do not release the same flood of dopamine as ice does.
There are also physical effects on the body: heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature all increase and appetite decreases.
One of the reasons people experience problems with ice is because it is more potent than in the past. Tests of drugs seized by police show it increasing in purity – which means there is a higher concentration of methamphetamine in the product. In early 2011, 50% of drugs captured had a purity of 10% or less. By July to September 2014, average purity was 75% to 80%.