Of all addictive drugs, Ice is one of the worst

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am


Crystal meth, or Ice, ranks among the most harmful and addictive controlled drugs available. Its side effects include psychosis, heart attack, uncontrolled scratching of imaginary insects under the skin and severe dental decay.

Long-term use ravages the mind and body and can lead to respiratory disorders, hypertension, manic depression and violent outbursts. And long-term users have far less prospect of recovery than someone hooked on heroin.

Ice is a synthetic amphetamine or stimulant produced in pill, powder, liquid or crystal form. The crystal form resembles ice, hence the slang name for the drug.

As a stimulant, it improves concentration, energy and alertness while decreasing appetite and fatigue.

The drug is almost pure, which is why it produces an intense sensation; it speeds up the activity of the central nervous system. Users can go without sleep for three to 15 days.

It is usually smoked through glass pipes, similar to how crack cocaine is used. It may also be injected (either dry or dissolved in water), snorted, or swallowed. People generally take the drug because of the long-lasting high that it gives. It produces a sense of euphoria that may last as long as 12 hours, depending on how the drug was taken.

The road methamphetamine has taken to becoming one of the world's most notorious drugs has been a fairly straightforward one. In the 1970s, the hippie scene gave way to a new trend of popping uppers and shooting up speed. Motorcycle gangs such as the Hell's Angels were notorious for producing amphetamines using a chemical normally used to clean swimming pools - phenyl-2-propanone (P2P). In 1980, P2P was placed under federal control in the United States, but it was soon discovered that speed could be made using readily available ephedrine - which can be extracted from cold medicines.

However, this discovery came with a bonus - this speed was not an amphetamine, it was a methamphetamine, and it was twice as strong as its P2P-derived cousin.