is one of the amphetamine group of drugs, which are all manufactured
from readily available chemicals. Methamphetamine is a stimulant
drug. Stimulants speed up the function of the brain and nervous
system. Methamphetamine is available in three different forms
commonly known as speed, base and ice. Variations in the methamphetamine
structure produce other drugs and MDMA (methylene dioxy methamphetamine)
or ecstasy is the best known example. For more information
see Ecstasy Drug Facts. Sometimes, but not often, doctors prescribe
amphetamine drugs to treat particular health problems. But
mostly people use amphetamine that is made illegally. Most
of these drugs currently sold on the street are
methamphetamine or variants that are stronger than amphetamines.
base and ice are all the same drug, methamphetamine, but they
differ in their purity. Ice is about 80 per cent pure, whereas
speed is typically around 10 to 20 per cent pure. The purity
of ice makes the effects stronger and longer lasting but also
makes it more addictive with worse side effects.
Speed usually comes in the form of white or yellow powder, but
can also be bought as pills. People either sniff it through
the nose (snort it), inject it or swallowed it in tablet
or capsule form. Speed is also known as go-ee, whiz, rev
and uppers. People who sell speed often mix or cut the powder
with other things that look the same, to make the drug go
further. Some mixed-in substances can have unpleasant or
harmful effects. It is difficult to tell what thedrug actually
Base is a damp or oily substance with a white to yellow or brown
colour which is more pure than powder. It can vary a lot
in its appearance and is also known as pure, paste and wax.
Base is usually injected but sometimes swallowed.
Ice is the purest form of methamphetamine available.
It usually looks like colourless to white crystals,
or a coarse crystal-like powder. It can also appear
colours. Ice is also called tik, crystal, crystal meth,
meth or shabu. Ice is usually smoked or injected. A
is smoked or injected enters the brain more quickly
which makes it much more addictive. Ice is also sniffed
the nose (snorted), swallowed or
inserted into the anus (shafted). Because of its purity,
ice is more powerful than speed and base and a given amount
puts a greater strain on the body. Its use can therefore
be much more dangerous. It has stronger side effects and
a worse comedown.
methamphetamine does to you depends on:
how much you take and how pure it is
your height and weight
your general health
your past experience with speed
whether you use methamphetamine
on its own or with other drugs
whether you use alone or with others, at home or at a party, etc.
The immediate and long-term effects of all types of methamphetamine
are the same. Because ice is a more potent or purer form of methamphetamine,
all the effects and side-effects will be more likely to happen and
be more intense than with speed or base.
When you take a small amount of methamphetamine the effects can
last from a few hours to a few days. You may:
• feel very good and confident
• feel alert and energetic
• be excited or agitated
• talk a lot
• feel aggressive
• feel anxious or panicky
• take more risks than usual.
Effects on your body may include that:
• your heart beats faster
• you breathe faster
• you feel less hungry
• your blood pressure rises
• the pupils in your eyes get bigger
• you move more quickly
• it is hard to sleep.
If you take a large amount of methamphetamine you might:
• get headaches
• feel dizzy
• feel restless
• have irregular breathing
• have a very fast or irregular heartbeat
• become pale
• feel very powerful or better than others
• become hostile or aggressive
have psychosis — a serious psychological problem where
you hear voices, imagine things, and/or fear that others want
to hurt you.
you use methamphetamine often and for a long time you may:
• become dependent on the drug
• often become violent for no reason
get sick more often because your body can’t resist disease
• be upset or depressed
• have periods of psychosis
• have relationship, work, money, legal or housing problems.
way a person takes methamphetamine over a long time can also
problems such as:
• Snorting the drug can lead to nosebleeds, sinus problems and damage
inside the nose.
• Injecting the drug with used or dirty needles or other equipment
makes you more likely to get infected with hepatitis C, hepatitis
B and/or HIV, get blood poisoning (septicaemia) and skin abscesses
(sores with pus).
Injecting the drug over a long time can result in: –
blocked blood vessels (caused by the drug constricting your blood
vessels or by the things sometimes mixed with ‘speed’)
leading to serious damage to the body’s organs such as the
liver, heart, kidneys – inflamed blood vessels and abscesses.
• Injecting and snorting amphetamine type substances also increases
the risk of becoming dependent on the drug and of getting other
of methamphetamine can happen to anyone. Even small amounts
may cause overdose with some people who have an especially
strong reaction to it. When a person overdoses, it may cause:
faster, irregular or weak heartbeat
bleeding blood vessels in the brain
very high fever
speed, base or ice with other drugs
who use methamphetamine sometimes take other drugs at the same
time to cope with some of the things methamphetamine does to
the body. Some people take drugs such as minor tranquillisers,
alcohol, marijuana or heroin to help them sleep. This can make
you dependent on several drugs at once. For example, some people
need speed or ice each day to get them going and minor tranquillisers
each night to get to sleep. This type of dependence can lead
to many serious physical and psychological problems. Mixing
different drugs can also make you more likely to overdose.
methamphetamine when you are pregnant may increase the chance
of losing the baby befor it is born or having the baby too
early as well as other problems. Babies of mothers using speed,
base or ice may weigh less and may get withdrawal symptoms
from the mother’s methamphetamine use. Little is known
about the long-term effects on the child as it grows.
can develop a tolerance to speed, base or ice. Tolerance means
that you must take more of the drug to feel the same effects
you used to have with lower amounts. Dependence on a drug such
as methamphetamine means that it takes up a lot of your thoughts,
emotions and activities. You also have trouble cutting back on
your drug use even though it is causing you problems. Dependence
on speed, base or ice can lead to a variety of health, money,
legal, work and relationship problems. Not all people who use
methamphetamine are dependent.
who are dependent on speed, base or ice may find it very hard
to stop using or cut down because of withdrawal symptoms.
These can include:
• chest pains
• feeling confused, anxious or agitated
• weight loss
• deep depression (feeling very down or sad)
• being nervy or restless
• feeling angry or upset
• long but disturbed sleep
• wanting the drug very badly (cravings).
These symptoms are usually fairly short-lived and most withdrawing
people don’t need medication. However, if you are worried
about withdrawal, contact your doctor or health centre.