Effects of Ice Abuse

Ice is one of the most destructive drugs on the illicit market, in its physical effects, mental effects and behavioral effects. If someone you care about is abusing it, it is critically important to help them find effective help as soon as possible.

Ice meth crystals

Ice is a strong stimulant, a highly purified form of methamphetamine that can be and usually is smoked. It causes a person to be energetic, artificially confident and euphoric. The ice user will normally stay up for days if the supply of ice holds out, eating little or no food. The high from ice can last a short time like a half an hour or as long as a full day. In most cases, the high from ice methamphetamine lasts much longer than the high from cocaine.

When the ice wears off, the person is likely to be exhausted, anxious and depressed. The cravings for more ice will be intense and will lead the person to do whatever it takes to get more ice and use it again.

An ice user can become violent and experience severe mood swings. If the person needs to commit crimes to get more drugs, he or she is likely to consider this more important than any other consideration. If the person is high while planning the crime, they are likely to approach it with great confidence and aggressiveness.

Physical Harm from Ice

Scratching arm

A report on ice users in Australia noted that almost half the ice users who were studied had physical problems including weight loss and heart palpitations. Staph infections resulting in sores on the body are possible and can easily be spread among meth users as they compulsively pick at and scratch their bodies due to hallucinations of bugs crawling under the skin.

Ice smokers may have severe dental problems that ultimately require extraction of all the teeth. A combination of factors such as the harsh chemicals in the drug, poor diet, exhaustion and lack of saliva flow contribute to this problem.

There is a long list of specific harm that frequently results from ice abuse, including:

  • Kidney and lung disorders that can be fatal
  • Brain damage
  • Disorganized, chaotic, damaging lifestyle
  • Permanent psychological problems
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Diminished social ability
  • Lowered resistance to illness
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke
  • Mental Harm

Paranoia is very common among ice users which makes it dangerous to be in the household, especially for children. A heavy ice user can attack a child, baby or loved one because he or she is under the delusion that they are the devil or an enemy. Severe mood swings can simulate psychosis. The person who has not exhibited a history of mental illness prior to ice use may now show psychotic, delusional, suicidal, homicidal or hallucinatory behavior.

Attacking the kid

One study showed that half the ice users investigated had shown psychotic, hostile or aggressive behavior in the prior year, including yelling at people, hitting them or throwing furniture.

The needs of children or other loved ones are very likely to be ignored. Children may go unfed, undiapered and worse. Children may be abused or even killed if they attract the attention of the ice user. Sexual stimulation of the ice user may result in small children being sexually abused. Horrific injuries on young children have occurred while the parent or caregiver was high on ice.

Whenever the person is not high, they may be dangerously depressed, paranoid and anxious.

In an Australian review, more than half the people who were abusing ice were addicted to it and nearly half had recently committed a crime.

Ice Overdose

It is possible to overdose on ice. A person who has overdosed is likely to be very anxious and have difficulty breathing. The heavy stimulant can cause chest pain, heart attack, stroke or even cardiac arrest. In severe cases, a person can go into a coma and suffer seizures and kidney failure.

Recovering from Ice Addiction

It takes a thorough recovery program to help a person regain their mental and physical balance after an ice addiction. One of the most critical steps is cleansing the body of residues of ice abuse, which can be done as part of the Narconon addiction recovery program. By flushing out toxic residues left behind after ice has been smoked, a person can brighten their outlook and recover an improved mental condition.

Those who go through the phase of recovery called the Narconon New Life Detoxification often report lowered or eliminated cravings for more drugs and a better outlook on life. This phase uses a low-heat sauna, nutritional supplements and moderate exercise in a strictly controlled regimen that results in the thorough cleansing of drug residues. As a result, thinking is often clearer and faster as well, once the muddiness of drug use has been cleared out.

The Narconon program can help someone you know who has been addicted to ice recover a sober, enjoyable life once again.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP