Ice Information

What is ice?

The chemical methamphetamine hydrochloride is generally just known as methamphetamine. Common street names for methamphetamine include crank, speed, meth, crystal meth, and crystal tea. It has been a popular drug of abuse for many years in the United States in its conventional, powdered form, which is usually snorted, ingested, or injected. Methamphetamine hydrochloride is processed to produce a potent, smokable form of methamphetamine known as “glass” or “ice”. This substance is called “ice” because it resembles rock candy or a chip of ice.

How does Ice compare to crack?

Ice is a potent, smokable form of methamphetamine, while crack is a potent form of freebase cocaine. The substances are smoked in a similar fashion and both provide the user with an immediate, intense high and increased alertness. Users refer to the sensation from smoking ice as “amping”, as in an “over-amped wire”, because of the amplified euphoria it gives them. Unlike the 15-minute high produced from using crack, the high from smoking ice can last from 8 to 24 hours.

Where does ice come from?

In contrast to cocaine, which is derived from the refined leaves of the South American coca plant and then imported, ice is synthesized in a chemical laboratory. Crack is usually packaged in glass or plastic vials and sold in small quantities of 300-500 mg. Ice is normally packaged in a penny-size plastic bag called a “paper”.

How is ice used?

Ice is used by placing the substance in a glass pipe, heating it, and inhaling the resulting vapors. The vapors enter the bloodstream directly through the lungs and are rapidly transported to the brain. When ice is heated, its solid crystals turn to liquid. When it cools, ice reverts to its solid state and is therefore reusable. Since ice is odorless, it can easily be used in public without being detected. In addition to its use for recreational purposes, ice is often used in the workplace to increase alertness. Some users smoke ice for days at a time and then “crash” in a deep sleep lasting 24 hours or more.

What adverse effects are associated with ice?

Despite limited experience with ice, a variety of adverse effects have been reported with its use. So far toxicity appears to be similar to that seen with the older forms of methamphetamine. Reported adverse effects include severe weight loss, aggressive behavior, fatal lung and kidney disorders, and long-lasting psychological problems characterized by paranoia and hallucinations. More serious lung disorders are anticipated with the smokable form of this drug. As with most amphetamines and amphetamine-like drugs, ice can potentially cause increases in blood pressure and heart rate, abnormal heartbeats, heart attacks, strokes, convulsions, and coma. Furthermore, continued use of ice can rapidly lead to addiction and the various social problems associated with an expensive drug habit.

As experience with ice increases, additional adverse effects may be discovered. It is unknown at the present time whether the adverse effects already reported are dose-dependent. In other words, as with cocaine, it may be possible for adverse effects to occur with ice regardless of the amount used. In addition, it may be possible for life-threatening reactions to occur with ice whether it is being used for the first or fiftieth time. One case has been reported of an individual experiencing a stroke after snorting methamphetamine for the first time. This type of unpredictability may be even more extreme with ice, due to its more rapid and more intense effects.