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What Is Ice?
If you’re not familiar with what “ice” is, you might be more familiar with its other name: crystal methamphetamine, more colloquially referred to as ‘meth’. Crystal meth is an upper or stimulant that causes euphoric feelings in the user.
Amphetamines (The parent drug of meth) was created in Germany in the late 1800s, while methamphetamines were made by the Japanese in 1919. Originally, the drugs were used to keep troops wide awake during the war. It later was used to promote wakefulness, fight depression, and help users lose weight (ice suppresses your appetite).
It wasn’t until the ‘60s and ‘70s that an injectable form of ice became available, starting the “meth epidemic” that led crystal meth to its status as a dangerous, addictive drug today.
How Does Ice Compare To Other Drugs?
Many illegal drugs that were considered dangerous before are getting a second look today. In many places around the world, there is an effort to decriminalise marijuana and support its use for medical and recreational purposes. Even LSD (a.k.a. acid) is being studied for its positive effects on people with mental illness and PTSD.
With ice, things get a little bit more complicated. There’s still the common belief that just one hit will get you addicted for life. Statistics show that Australia has the highest rate of methamphetamine addiction in the whole world, which experts attribute to the increased availability of purer and more potent forms of the drug.
What Is Ice Addiction?
Addiction is the state of being dependent on a particular substance to the point that it hinders your everyday function. Most drugs and vices have an addictive component that makes the user feel good, which causes the user to seek it out over and over again.
It’s like alcohol or video game addiction – you can enjoy drinking or playing video games, but if it does not impact your ability to function normally in society, you aren’t considered an addict.
How To Tell: Side Effects & Signs Of Ice Addicts’ Behaviour
The first step to helping an ice addict is recognising their addiction in the first place. Meth has several side effects, such as behavioural issues, paranoia, mood swings, hallucinations, psychosis, and anxiety, as well as a wide range of physiological effects as well. People on ice may display the following signs:
- Track marks on the arm
- Sudden, extreme weight loss
- Rotting or broken teeth
- Burns on the lips, face, or fingers
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Premature skin aging
Common Misconceptions About Ice Abuse
The stigma behind ice use and abuse is the #1 reason that ice addicts are scared to seek rehabilitation. Here are some of the most common myths about ice addiction.
Use It Once And You’ll Be Addicted Forever
Yes, it’s true that drugs can be addictive, especially if it provides you with positive feelings that you aren’t experiencing in everyday life. However, addiction isn’t inherent to drug use. While drugs like ice can be very addictive, not every user will be an addict.
Only Weak Or Poor People Become Addicted To Drugs
Anyone can become an ice addict; just take a look at some famous celebrities who got hooked on the drug – Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, and Robert Downey Jr just to name a few. Risk factors include poverty, personality disorders, traumatic experiences, and a family history of abuse.
Meth Users Are Criminal And Violent
The war on drugs was built on this particular myth. While it is true that there is a high rate of violent crime among ice addicts, it’s similar to the rate of violence in other groups of addicts. Most experts agree that the violence stems from the need to “get their next fix”, so addicts turn to theft and crime to cough up the money. So ice doesn’t make someone violent, but their circumstances might.
Ice Addiction Treatment
If you suspect a loved one is struggling with ice addiction, don’t lose hope. Treatment centres and rehabilitation programs exist for addicts to get sober.
To be successful, treatment needs to cover both the physiological and psychological dependence on the drug. So during detoxification, it is important to address the risk factors (e.g. poverty, depression) that made the addict choose meth in the first place. This could be in the form of attending group therapy sessions, avoiding other potential addictions like alcohol, and getting support from family and friends.
How To Help A Loved One Suffering From Ice Addiction
So, you might be asking how to deal with an ice addict. Addressing the situation with compassion and understanding is the number one priority, as any moral judgment will likely push the addict away. Here are some tips for helping out an ice addict:
- Learn as much as you can about the drug, its side effects, and the treatment options available.
- Enlist the help of a professional. Getting someone unaddicted is a complex process that you cannot do on your own.
- Only confront the addict when they’re sober (and not in withdrawal). This reduces the chance that they will be aggressive, defensive, or violent.
- Take care of yourself first. You can’t help someone if you’re not in a good place, so if you feel like helping your loved one out of addiction is taking too much of a toll on you, step away for a few moments and take a break.
If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, you can reach out for help.
Emergency Support Lifeline: 13 11 14
Family Drug Support: 1300 368 186
Crystal Meth Anonymous: 0414 660 851
Narcotics Anonymous Australia: 1300 652 820
Counselling Online: www.consellingonline.org.au
We’re not trying to say that crystal meth isn’t dangerous or encourage its use. The before and after photos of ice addicts make one thing clear: it can have some very dire effects, not just on your own health but on your relationship with others. But if you know someone with a meth addiction, changing your perspective and reaching out with love and respect are the best ways to help!