What is ice doing to you?

If you’re using ice, it’s probably affecting you in ways that you weren’t aware of. It can damage your body and mind in several ways.

It can also be hard to maintain close relationships if you’re using ice. You may have found yourself missing family get togethers or letting your partner down because your ice use is taking priority.

  • The affect ice has on your body and brain depends on your build, headspace, tolerance and any medication you're taking. It also depends on your environment and how you’re using the drug.

    Ice is a stimulant. When you take ice, it increases your brain activity and intensifies the messages between your brain and your body.

    Ice affects the brain by releasing:

    • dopamine, which is the 'feel good' response and causes the feeling of being high
    • noradrenaline, which is responsible for your 'fight or flight' response and makes you feel alert and awake
    • serotonin, which impacts your impulse control, appetite, mood and sleep patterns.

    Ice acts quickly and can make you feel:

    • energetic
    • like you want to have sex (increased libido)
    • like you've lost your appetite
    • like your mouth is dry
    • confident and good about yourself
    • like your heart is racing
    • hot and sweaty
    • like you need to grind your teeth
    • fidgety and itchy.

    Too much ice use can cause you to lose your appetite and not eating for too long can lead to malnutrition. It decreases saliva in your mouth which makes you clench your jaw and grind your teeth more than usual.

    What happens to my body when I take ice?

    When you smoke or inject ice, you’ll often feel the effects come on within minutes. Snorting or swallowing ice produces a less intense high so it can take your body up to 30 minutes to recognise the effects.

    The high you get from ice is most powerful for the first 1 to 2 hours. It takes around 6 hours for the most powerful effects to wear off, and another 6 to 12 hours for the rest of the effects to wear off. The chemicals in ice means that your brain can't restore the dopamine to its normal levels straight away.

    What is a 'comedown'?

    Ice takes 2 to 3 days to leave the body. As the drugs start to wear off, it can make you feel very low and this is what is known as the 'comedown'.

    The effects of a comedown from ice can take several days and may make you feel:

    • exhausted
    • pretty low and down
    • irritable and snappy
    • on edge
    • like you can't get to sleep
    • anxious and paranoid.

    The effects of the comedown mean you may get less pleasure from life and everyday activities. It’s important to remember that these are the after effects of ice and not a sign of your overall wellbeing. These feelings go away after a few days.

    If you use ice for a long period of time, you may end up having panic attacks, depression, psychosis and insomnia.

    If you have an existing mental health condition, ice use may increase your symptoms and the impact of the comedown may be more severe.

    Long term use may lead to:

    • heart and kidney problems
    • increased risk of stroke and seizures
    • insomnia
    • difficulty with memory, concentration, organising and planning
    • weight loss
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • paranoia
    • agitation
    • sexual disfunction.

    There’s no safe way for you to use ice. You can have a psychotic episode the first time you use it. The chances of this happening can be higher if you have a mental health condition.

  • Serious and prolonged ice use can have lasting and damaging effects on your relationships with family and friends. Using ice can cause social problems including relationship issues, financial problems, legal problems, and impact your study or work.

    If you have children and you use ice, you should make sure you don’t use it around them. It’s also important that they’re supervised by a trusted adult for their safety and wellbeing.

    How do I know if my ice use is becoming a problem?

    Your ice use may be a problem if you’re:

    • using ice in more risky ways
    • using ice in larger amounts or for longer than you planned
    • spending a great deal of time getting, using or recovering from the effects of ice
    • using more ice to get the same effect
    • having cravings for ice or experiencing difficulty stopping or reducing your use
    • experiencing problems with relationships, money, work and/or having legal problems.

    If you’re in the process of stopping or reducing your drug use, you’ll probably have withdrawal symptoms.

    These can include:

    • tiredness
    • stomach cramps
    • aches
    • nausea
    • rapid heart beat
    • hot and cold flushes
    • hunger
    • chest pains
    • feeling confused, anxious or agitated
    • weight loss
    • deep depression or feeling very down and sad
    • feeling angry or upset
    • problems sleeping
    • craving the drug very badly.

    Our support service page has a list of services that can help you. These range from talking to a professional counsellor to planning your recovery.

    If you think you have a problem with ice, be honest with your loved ones and ask for help. Help is available and recovery is possible. Remind yourself about all the positive reasons to get help and that recovery is possible.

Keeping yourself safe

We want you to be as safe as possible — if you’re using ice, there’s always a chance you could overdose or have a bad reaction.

You may not know how ice will affect you, or another person, or from using one time to another. Taking more than one drug at a time makes the effects even more unpredictable.

  • People use ice for many different reasons. Whenever you use ice, you're increasing your risk of harm. If you're going to use it, there are some things you can do to reduce that risk for yourself.

    Some ways to keep yourself safe include:

    • not mixing substances together
    • testing with a small amount and go slow, and don’t use alone.

    Try to avoid mixing with other drugs

    Taking other drugs while you're using ice can be dangerous and can cause further strain on your body. The effects of mixing drugs can be unpredictable and increases the risk of overdose or death. People can react differently to mixes and doses. What might be okay for you, might be harmful to somebody else. Here are some things to watch for when mixing other drugs and medications.

    Pharmaceutical medications

    Mixing drugs changes the effects of both the ice and the medication. Ice can disguise the effects of the medication, such as anti-anxiety medication and increase the risk of overdose and death.


    Cannabis can make you feel paranoid or anxious. Ice can do that too, so having cannabis while using ice may add to those feelings of paranoia.


    Alcohol is a depressant which means that it slows down the functioning of the brain and body. It can add a lot of extra pressure onto your system, especially your heart. Taking ice while drinking alcohol could lead to a stroke.

    Reduce risky behaviours

    Ice can make your behaviour riskier than normal. If you're going to use ice, try to make sure that you keep yourself and others safe.

    Practising safe sex

    Use protection if you have more than one partner.

    Don't share injecting equipment

    If you inject ice, make sure you use sterile injecting equipment and you don't share your equipment. You're at risk of Hepatitis C and HIV if you share injecting equipment. You need to dispose of your used injecting equipment safely. There are many locations across Queensland where you can get clean equipment and dispose your used equipment.

    Find a location near you on the Pharmacy Guild's list of services.

    Don’t drive

    It's illegal in Queensland to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of methamphetamine, so don't drive if you've used ice. Police have roadside testing kits that will look for traces of drugs in your saliva if you're pulled over.

  • What are the signs of an overdose?

    You can overdose on ice at any time. Even small amounts may cause you to overdose especially if you have a strong reaction to it. You’re at a greater risk of overdosing if you’re on your own.

    Some signs of an overdose may include:

    • severe headaches
    • chest pain
    • vomiting
    • rapid heart rate
    • rapid increase in body temperature
    • irregular breathing
    • extreme anxiety
    • panic
    • aggression
    • seizures
    • loss of consciousness.

    If you're having any signs of an overdose call Triple Zero (000) and ask for 'ambulance'.

    If you’re having problems breathing and you have someone with you, they may need to perform CPR.

    You should start CPR if a person:

    • is unconscious
    • isn’t responding to you
    • isn’t breathing or is breathing abnormally.

    The Health Direct website has detailed instructions, including a video showing how to perform CPR.


Developing an addiction to ice isn’t a character flaw or a sign of weakness, and it takes more than willpower to overcome the problem.

The toughest step you’ll take is the very first one — recognising that you have a problem and deciding to make a change.

Remember, recovery needs time, motivation and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.

  • It’s a positive sign that’ve you’ve recognised your ice use is a problem and that you want to recover.
    Making the first step to talk to someone about your drug use, whether it be to a loved one, friend or a professional is never easy.

    Help is available, and there are many different treatment options to support your recovery.

    Our services and support section has details for a range of support services and organisations to support your recovery.

    There are also service and support options for friends and family. The people that care for you are important too.

  • It's important to be open and honest with those around you about your ice use and your need for support.

    Your family and friends will want the best for you and will want you to recover./

    Here are some tips for when you talk to someone:

    • wait until you're in a good frame of mind to talk to the people you love about your ice use
    • be open to talking and willing to listen
    • have a conversation that avoids conflict or blame, and be willing to work with others to move forward
    • accept that recovery is going to be a long process, but people can and do recover from ice use
    • be honest with yourself and with those around you
    • be open to help and support.

    It's important to remember that most people when they are making changes have a 'slip-up'.  Having a slip-up doesn't mean that you are going to return to your previous level of use and is a normal part of the recovery process. It's a real opportunity to learn and remember to keep going and not give up. Treatment works and is effective.

  • During recovery, it's important you feel supported. This will help you stay in recovery longer and overcome any challenges you may have.

    You can help yourself feel supported by:

    • reaching out to friends and being honest about what's going on in your life
    • connecting with people you can trust to help share your worries and frustrations
    • getting enjoyment out of your pastimes and hobbies and build them into a  good routine
    • doing things that make you happy like catching up with friends, exercising and eating out
    • keeping a regular sleep routine, eating well and seeing your GP if you're feeling like you're not coping.

    You don't need to do this alone.

    Our support service page has a list of services that can help you. These range from talking to a professional counsellor to planning your recovery.

Real life recovery and hope

Meet Lawry, Sonetta and Kerry and listen to their stories of recovery and hope.

'I thought I was in control until I wasn’t. I’m starting to get back what ice took from me.'

- Lawry

'You’re the key and that’s the hard bit. Recovery is possible, I’ve seen it.'

- Sonetta

'Even if I’m having a rough day, just the thought that I escaped ice and am free is amazing.'

- Kerry

Find services and support

We have services and support for you and for your friends and family.

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Last updated: May 2023