Crystal Methamphetamine (Ice)

This section provides information about the crystalline form of methamphetamine, commonly known as ‘ice’. It provides general information about ice, the demographic profile of ice users, and patterns and methods of use.

This section draws on data from individuals aged 14 years and older, from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017). The NDSHS is a triennial general population survey of Australians' awareness, attitudes, and behaviours relating to alcohol and other drug use. It is the best data source available to provide a national population demographic profile of Australians’ patterns of ice use.

To be consistent with terminology used in the NDSHS, this section of the NADK uses the term meth/amphetamine. The NDSHS defines meth/amphetamine as including speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin®, and pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

What is crystal methamphetamine (ice?)

Crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as ice) is a form of methamphetamine. It is typically the most potent and purest form of methamphetamine, and is usually smoked or injected. Crystal methamphetamine also goes by the names of meth, d-meth, glass, crystal, batu, or shabu.

See General Methamphetamine Information for more information about the forms of methamphetamine and how they are used.

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

What are the risks of crystal methamphetamine (ice) use?

The adverse consequences of using crystal methamphetamine (ice) are the same as using other forms of methamphetamine. (See FAQs What are the effects of methamphetamine use?, What are the physical health risks of methamphetamine use? and What are the mental health risks of methamphetamine use?) However, ice tends to be more potent and purer than other forms. As a result, the effects of ice are both more likely to occur and likely to be more intense than when other forms of methamphetamine are used.

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

What proportion of Australians have used crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

In 2016, 0.8% of Australians had used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

Are men or women in Australia more likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Australian men are more likely than women to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) (1.1% vs 0.5%, respectively).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

Are younger or older Australians more likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Australians aged 25-29 years are the age group most likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

*** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

How do Australians use crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months and who reported that the main form they used was crystal methamphetamine (ice), the majority (68%) typically smoked it. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

What proportion of Australian meth/amphetamine users use crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetaminein the past 12 months, 70% reported that they had ever used crystal methamphetamine (ice). Fifty-seven percent reported that ice was the main form of meth/amphetamine that they used.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

 † Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Are male or female meth/amphetamine users in Australia more likely to use crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, men are more likely than women to report that they have ever used crystal methamphetamine (ice), and that ice is the main form of meth/amphetamine that they use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Are younger or older meth/amphetamine users in Australia more likely to use crystal methamphetamine (ice)?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetaminein the past 12 months, older age groups are more likely than younger age groups to have ever used crystal methamphetamine (ice), and to report that ice is the main form of meth/amphetamine that they use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

 † Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

 * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

 ** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

 Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Does crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in Australia vary by employment status?

Unemployed Australians are most likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months. Those not in the labour force are least likely to have done so.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Employment Status: Whether an individual is currently: a) employed; b) unemployed; or c) not in the labour force.

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.

Unemployed: Those who are not currently working and are actively seeking employment.

Does crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in Australia vary by employment status and gender?

Among Australians who are unemployed, men are more likely than women to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months (6% vs 1.5%, respectively). Men and women who are employed or not in the labour force use crystal methamphetamine at relatively similar rates.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Employment Status: Whether an individual is currently: a) employed; b) unemployed; or c) not in the labour force.

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.

Unemployed: Those who are not currently working and are actively seeking employment.

Does crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in Australia vary by employment status and age?

Among Australians who are unemployed, those aged 25-29 years are most likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months, followed by those aged 30-39 years.

Australians who are employed or not in the labour force use crystal methamphetamine at relatively similar rates across all ages, although use is less prevalent among those aged under 18 and over 40 years.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

* Estimate is likely to be unreliable due to small sample sizes.

Employment Status: Whether an individual is currently: a) employed; b) unemployed; or c) not in the labour force.

Employed: Self-employed or working for salary or wages.

Not in the Labour Force: Engaged in home duties, volunteer/charity work, student, retiree/pensioner, other.

Unemployed: Those who are not currently working and are actively seeking employment.

Do Australian crystal methamphetamine users experience higher levels of psychological distress, compared to those who use other forms of meth/amphetamine?

Australians who used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months report similar levels of psychological distress to those who used other forms of meth/amphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Does crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in Australia vary by geographic location?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, those living in outer regional/remote/very remote locations are most likely to report that they mainly use crystal methamphetamine (ice).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Does the proportion of Australians who use crystal methamphetamine (ice) vary by geographic location?

Approximately equal proportions of Australians living in major cities and inner regional areas have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months (0.7% and 0.6%, respectively). A larger proportion of those in outer regional/remote/very remote areas (1.6%) report having used ice in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

Does crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in Australia vary by jurisdiction?

Australians living in Western Australia  and South Australia are more likely to have used crystal methamphetamine (ice) in the past 12 months than Australians living in other jurisdictions.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).