What are the signs of ice addiction?

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psychotherapist speaking with a young patient
Drug addiction
The Hader Clinic
The Hader Clinic
July 15, 2020
minute read

Identifying the symptoms of a sometimes hidden addiction

Ice, or methamphetamine, is one of the most pervasive and destructive substances in the world today. In Australia, the 2016 National Drug Survey revealed that 6.3% of Australians (around 1.7 million) over the age of 14 claimed to have used ice at least once. That's 1 in 70 people in the country using ice.

And the danger of ice does not end with it being readily available in communities around the country. Ice use is also skyrocketing. Of the 1.7 million Australians who claim to use ice, it is estimated that 20.4% use ice on a weekly or daily basis.

The highly addictive nature of methamphetamine has elevated its status from being a contemporary stimulant to a full-blown epidemic. To combat the negative effects of ice, you need to know the signs of addiction, and how to help people suffering from the illness.

The Hader Clinic specialises in treating ice addiction by offering holistic addiction and mental health treatment programs, for inpatients and outpatients. If you know someone in crisis, we can expedite the admission process to get them help as soon as possible.

Why is ice so addictive?

Methamphetamine is so addictive because, even from the first use, the brain is effectively powerless to ignore the appeal of the drug. Consuming ice floods the brain with dopamine — the pleasure chemical within the brain that is released as a reward.

For instance, when you sit down with your family to share a good meal, your brain will generally release about 50 units of dopamine. When you complete a solid workout, you will generally be rewarded with between 100 and 200 units. However, when you consume ice, your brain releases around 1300 units of dopamine.

This extremely pleasurable feeling is incredibly addictive, so much so that the brain is literally powerless against its appeal. This is what makes ice addiction so common — it is a illness that feels so good that it is hard to overcome.

How can I spot an ice addict?

distressed young man sitting in corner of room

There's no such thing as a 'typical' meth user. Anti-drug campaigns conjure up visions of skinny, shambling addicts searching for a needle. In truth, addiction can affect anyone, from all walks of life, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or social status. This makes it sometimes difficult to see the signs of ice abuse.

Ice addiction is a particular impactful illness. It affects the entire self, not just the physical and psychological parts of the person. Some of the most commonly visible symptoms of ice abuse include:

  • Physical — track marks, dental problems, loss of appetite, physical cravings
  • Psychological — psychosis, fear, hallucinations, decreased cognitive function
  • Emotional — irritability, mood swings, aggression, depression, anxiety
  • Social — withdrawing from society, loss of interests, problems at work and home
  • Spiritual — loss of self-confidence, self-worth, and an inability to function without ice

These symptoms do not end while the addict is using the drug. Depending on their habits and usage, ice withdrawal can be particularly dangerous for addicts. As well as the physical symptoms of withdrawal, like shaking and aches and pains, withdrawal may also uncover latent mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD.

There's no such thing as a 'functioning addict'. Ice addiction affects people in all the ways listed above, and more. When the brain is geared towards seeking a high, all other facets of life suffer, including employment, family relationships, and other interests.


Learn more about treatment for ice addiction


What should I do if I am concerned for a loved one?

If you have identified that a loved one may be addicted to ice, there is hope. If you want to help them, it's important that you prepare for some tough conversations. A family intervention is the first difficult step in helping your loved one accept that they have a problem with ice.

With the help of an Interventionist from The Hader Clinic, you can begin the conversation with a loved one. Here's the process:

  1. Contact us to begin discussing the steps involved in a family intervention.
  2. Our interventionist will help you prepare for the intervention from start to finish.
  3. Together, you will employ evidence-based models to work towards a successful outcome.
  4. Sit your loved one down and work through the intervention together, sharing thoughts and feelings in a non-confrontational way.
  5. Present treatment options to your loved one. If they are accepted, then treatment can begin. If not, the process can be repeated.

How can The Hader Clinic help?

The Hader Clinic knows how to treat all signs and symptoms of ice addiction. We work with addicts to develop tailored treatment plans that address the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual effects of the illness. We treat all elements in tandem, allowing the self to heal.

We begin our residential programs by offering emergency admission into our clinics, if necessary. Then, we help the patient work towards freedom from cravings with a withdrawal management program. Addicts can then progress to an inpatient facility, where they continue to adjust to normal life. Finally, we offer outpatient and family support services to prevent relapse.

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