In Australia, 1.3 million people that are aged 14 or more have taken ICE at some point in their lifetime, whilst 90,000 people using it on at least a monthly basis. Alarmingly, 20% of meth users take the drug weekly or daily and 1.4% of people in Australia aged 14 or over admit to using some form of methamphetamine within the last 12 months.
The above statistics provide a brief but alarming insight into the routine involvement of everyday Australian citizens, with one of the worst drugs known to man. ICE is an extremely addictive and dangerously misleading class A narcotic. While the user may initially experience short-term energy, euphoria and alertness, taking it in high doses leads to aggressive behaviour, psychosis and hallucinations, as well as ongoing damage to the body’s immune system, brain functioning, digestive system and nervous system.
Not many first-time users realise that ICE is a more potent form of methamphetamine. The initial high experienced by someone having a hit of ICE is a result of the drug instantly infiltrating the dopamine and serotonin levels in the user’s brain. This surge of the brain’s naturally-produced ‘pleasure chemicals’ causes the user to experience a wonderful, elated sense of being. At the same time, it increases their heart rate and sends a deadly chemical concoction into the lungs, heart, brain and most other vital organs. There’s not one ingredient in the composition of ICE that has even the slightest positive effect on the human body. Not one.
The most concerning aspect of a drug like ICE is its ability to manifest into addiction at any given time. Although some users may take the drug once and never return to it, others will continue to use it. Consistent users are usually basing each smoke on the desire to feel the pure and incredible high they experienced when first ever smoking ICE. This high never comes back. Every session increases your body’s tolerance to the effects of the drug, therefore dampening those highly-anticipated pleasurable surges. Regular dependence quickly develops from this vicious, cyclic mentality of seeking that first-time rush. Other factors such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, family unrest or low self-esteem can also contribute to a person seeking validation from a fabricated, chemical-driven reality.
A Chilling Addiction
When an individual is addicted to ICE, they can’t go a day without it. The drug is so powerful and brain-altering that it becomes an obsession, a lifeline and an insatiable craving that can only be relieved through another hit. So addictive and all-consuming is ICE, that many users engage in highly dangerous criminal behaviour, developing associations with other drug-related persons that then expose loved ones and communities to risk of drug-related violence. Addicts will impulsively engage in illegal activity or act as an accessory to illegal operations, all for the purpose of accessing the drug. Users often continue to take it despite knowing and experiencing themselves, the physical and mental implications on the mind and body.
Humans have brains that require a daily balance of neurotransmitters to regulate, feel and function. Dopamine and serotonin are two key players in the brain’s daily chemical functioning. Dopamine plays an important role in aiding the decision-making process, reasoning, movement and overall feelings of wellbeing and contentment. Serotonin is the driving force for ‘happiness’ and can vary in levels according to what we might have eaten, experienced or thought about at any given time. It is the ‘pleasure hormone’ the feeling we want all the time, the elation and the full-body tingle. It’s an addictive feeling, and it’s vulnerable to addictive encouragement.
A first-time ICE user will experience a massive surge in both their dopamine and serotonin. This results in a feeling of euphoria and motivation, an urge to go and live the day like it’s their last. However, the effects of an ICE hit may last eight to 24 hours at the very most, leaving the user functioning on a deficit of the natural hormones they had before taking the drug. A really unpleasant, gloomy comedown.
Each time an individual has a hit of ICE, the brain's natural ability to produce the hormones dopamine and serotonin, starts to slow down significantly. Eventually, an addict will reach a stage where they cannot actually function at a basic, human level without having some of the drug in their system. Continuation of this pattern of behaviour is the first big step into the real addiction danger zone. If an ICE addict is not confronted and brought to the attention of a medical professional or rehabilitation facility, they will continue to crack under the weight of their drug dependency. Quite literally, cracks will begin to surface.
Some key signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect you or someone you know has an ICE addiction:
Mood changes, including increased irritability and depression
An inability to stop using the drug, even for a day
Lying about the degree of their drug abuse to the ones they love
Being unable to keep a job, friends or a relationship
Weight loss, as the drug acts as an appetite suppressant
A tendency to act violently, especially when they can’t access the drug
Paranoia and hallucinations
Insomnia due to a chemical disruption in their brain
Engaging in risky behaviours, such as unsafe sex
Treatment & Rehabilitation
Inpatient programs can be highly effective for addicts who need complete removal from their former living environment. By removing an addict from the living situation in which the abused drug was prevalent and unavoidable, their chance of proper detachment from the outside world in order to enter the mindset of their focused recovery, is strong. This form of rehab can last for one to three months in a specialist facility, and longer if the patient is relocated to a larger, less-intensive facility to spend a further few months before considering the next step in their recovery plan.
For someone with a serious drug addiction such as ICE, a treatment program would best be implemented through a combination of addiction-related rehab programs. Intensive inpatient rehabilitation would ensure a safe, monitored and medically-assisted detoxification process. Withdrawal symptoms from amphetamines can be at times, unbearable, and in rare cases the patient may need consistent observation.
Once detoxification has been successfully managed and the patient has the mental capacity and physical energy to move forward with further rehab programs offered within the overall Sober Living Rehab process:
Group therapy sessions to connect with others who share similar struggles
Life skills workshops to gain self-awareness, self-worth, appreciation of others and attitude consistency
Yoga for strengthening the body and mind towards a sober future
Art therapy to express your vision for sobriety
Sober Living Housing is a Private Residential Drug and Alcohol Rehab facility based in Melbourne. Through an expansive and solid foundation of 5 core rehab programs, the facility is both a medically-endorsed addiction treatment service and an Intensive Inpatient Rehab Centre - to cater for every step of the recovery process.
They’re an invaluable starting point for someone battling addiction and not knowing how to get through it alone. Through a combination of therapy, inpatient rehab, life skills and the prospect of graduating to the Sober Living Rehabilitation Program, a former addict can build a solid toolkit of practical, holistic and medical-based support for their sober future.
Check out the link below for a comprehensive guide to Sober Living Housing and how our rehab programs can break down that overpowering wall that is drug addiction.