What is crystal meth?

Crystal methamphetamine (also known as ‘crystal meth’ or ‘ice’) is a highly addictive and illegal drug. Usage is rapidly increasing in Australia, especially amongst young people. 

Made from over the counter drugs, crystal meth combined with dangerous chemicals such as acetone (nail polish remover), bleach, battery acid, red phosphorus and engine coolant. 

It looks like sheets of glass often with a hint of green, pink or blue. On the street it goes by many names like: crystal meth, ice, glass, shard, crank, puff, shabu, Tina and Christine. It can be injected, smoked, swallowed or snorted.

What kind of effect can crystal meth have?

Crystal meth is a kind of methamphetamine that causes a huge surge in the chemicals in your brain that keep you functioning normally.

Short term effects of crystal meth include:
  • feeling elated and euphoric
  • anxiety
  • higher motivation
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased alertness
  • paranoia
  • psychosis
  • decreased appetite
  • mood swings
  • unpredictable behaviour
Long term effects include:
  • decreased bone density
  • involuntary muscle movement
  • increased body temperature
  • increased heart strain
  • liver and kidney damage
  • cracked teeth and rotted gums, also known as ‘Meth Mouth’
  • premature ageing
  • hair loss
  • skin lesions
  • acne

Check out this link to see how extreme and fast changes in appearance can be with meth use.

An image of crystal methamphetamine.
Crystal meth and mental health

As we’ve already mentioned, ice affects the balance of chemicals in your brain. When these chemicals are depleted by ice use, the potential for mental health issues increases dramatically.

Some people who use meth can become agitated, moody, unhappy and anxious, and have a very hard time sleeping. Ice usage is also associated with other mental health issues including chronic fatigue, anxiety, severe depression and psychosis. Any pre-existing mental health conditions can be exacerbated with meth use.

People who use meth often experience hallucinations. Hallucinating crank bugs (bugs crawling beneath the skin) is very common and users will pick and cut at the skin relentlessly to get these ‘bugs’ out. 

What impact can crystal meth have on relationships?

Crystal meth causes sleep deprivation, increases aggression, and creates a cycle of addiction, which can have a huge impact on family and friends. 

People who are addicted to crystal meth can become unpredictable, violent and verbally abusive to others. They may steal to provide for their habit, and they may also start lying to family and friends about using.

People on meth have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in the community. Strong addiction means users are much more likely to have unsafe sex, often in exchange for the drug. 

The extreme addictiveness of the drug also means that users often struggle to keep their job or continue with studying.  Those addicted to meth often lose touch with friends who do not use. 

Learn more
  • Check out this page for more information on crystal meth
Where to get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are places you can go to for help and support:

  • Visit KidsHelp or eheadspace for free counselling and support online or over the phone
  • Head to Path2Help for confidential support for alcohol and drug use

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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