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Ice Among Teenagers

Hisham an eighteen years old guy went to a hospital to visit his friend Mahmud who was involved in an accident the night before. Hisham found out that Mahmud needed to be admitted to the intensive care unit. He was only able to look at his friend from a distance. Mahmud was unconscious. He was using a life support machine to help him to breathe. He had fluid and blood going into his body. He had bandages over his head, and both arms. He felt very helpless as there was nothing much he could do to help although he knew Mahmud must be suffering from a lot of pain. Hisham decided to ask the doctor about Mahmud’s condition and found out that Mahmud’s condition was critical. Mahmud was found in a car crushed under a lorry and he was unconscious and badly injured. Nobody knew what actually happened but the doctor found that Mahmud‘s body contain an illicit drug called methamphetamine. According to the doctor most probably Mahmud was driving under the influence of a drug called ICE.

Hisham was puzzled. The image of his friend fighting for his life kept coming to his mind and he kept on thinking about several questions. What is ICE? How can this drug be responsible for Mahmud to be involved in this bad accident? How can I help Mahmud?

What is ICE?

Ice is a street name or slang for Methamphetamine drug. Other street names are Syabu, crystal, Meth, Batu etc. It is highly addictive and an illegal drug. This drug is a stimulant which means it stimulates your nervous system and body function.

ICE can appear in crystal clear form and look like a ‘chip of ice’. You can also find in white powder or tablet form. People who uses ICE usually takes it by:

  • Snorting

  • Smoking

  • Injecting

Methamphetamine can be processed at the backyard. Many ingredients are added to make this drug such as cold medication that can be purchased over the counter, red phosphorous, anhydrous ammonia, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel and anti-freezing agent. Cheap and dangerous chemicals aren’t they? But people pay a high price to purchase this drug and the effect take a high toll too!

Why do teenagers take Ice?

Adolescents usually take ice:

  • To feel good. The euphoric effect it has caused an intensely pleasurable sensation described as ‘high’ by the users.

  • To feel happy and energetic

    • Taken a lot in a party. Under the influence of ICE, these adolescents will continue to dance without feeling tired until they go down with exhaustion.

  • To stay awake and stay focused

    • Because ice can give the sense of increase alertness and concentration, students sometimes takes it to help them stay awake to study.

  • To increase performance

  • People taking ice feels very confident and end up doing a lot of dangerous activities and stunts. Commonly used by ‘mat rempit’.

  • To ‘fit in’

    • Some adolescents take it because of peer pressure.

  • To lose weight.

  • Side effect of using ICE includes weight loss. This effect is used as reason for using ICE.

Can you get addicted to Ice?

Many drug user believe they won’t get addicted to Ice and it is  safer compared to other drugs. Unfortunately that is not so. Just ike other illicit drugs, taking Ice can cause these effects:

  • Tolerance and Addiction

  • People who use Ice do develop tolerance. They will need larger amount of drugs to get the same required effect. Although Ice is highly addictive, tolerance may not appear immediately. This depends on how much, how frequent and how long that person has been using Ice.

  • Withdrawal

  • If a person uses Ice occasionally the effect may be just for a few days but for chronic users the withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks or even months. The symptoms include range from depression, fatigue, increase appetite, to agitation, aggressive behaviour, easily agitated and having suicidal ideation and attempt

  • Overdose

  • This can be life threatening. It may happen with new users or chronic abusers. It can present with increase heart rate, heart attack or the heart just stop, increase blood pressure, convulsion, coma, dehydration and even death.

  • Infections

  • You may acquire sexually transmitted diseases or some blood borne infections like HIV, Hepatitis B and C through sex and needle sharing.

  • Social issues

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

  • Withdrawal from family and friends and new circle of friends.

  • Teenagers or adolescents may find themselves pregnant and later involved with illegal abortion or abandoning newborn babies

  • Problems with parents and school or workplace

  • Legal issues

  • Ice addiction is very costly. Adolescents may find themselves involved with legal issues to support this habit.

  • Involve in activities like ‘rempit’

What does ICE do to your body?

Ice or Methamphetamine rapidly stimulates the opiod receptor in the brain to produce an increase amount of Dopamine. Dopamine is the substance responsible for any feeling of happiness, pleasure, satisfaction and etc. For example Dopamine is increased during sex. However Ice is able to produce a very high level; more than 10 times more Dopamine compared to other drugs.

What are the effects of Ice?

With the very high level of Dopamine released, you will feel intense pleasure and become very euphoric; a feeling that you have never experience. This effect can last from six to twelve hours. Then when the effects of Ice dies off and the dopamine level is low, you will feel miserably depressed and will crave to take the drug again to experience the same feelings.

Ice is known to cause brain damage. It changes the brain chemistry and destroys the pleasure centre so much so that after chronic usage you will not be able to experience the same pleasure and feeling and unable to feel happy at all. This is what we called anhedonia.

The effects of taking Ice can be observed immediately or after long term usage. Ice causes irreversible brain damage where the brain cells die. Chronic use may also result in Meth psychosis. (Madness because of using Ice) which may be dificult to treat. A person with Meth Psychosis usually will have

  • Hallucination

    False perceptions of seeing, hearing or feeling. A person will feel like something crawling on his skin and he will continue picking on his skin to remove it until he develop lesions from it.

  • Delusions

    Fixed false belief. For example he strongly belief that he has great power or someone intends to kill him.

  • Obsessions

    Manifested by repititive behaviour

  • Paranoia

    Having extreme suspicion of others and his surroundings

Immediate effect   Long term effect
  • Headache
  • Dizzy
  • Awake and alert
  • Need little sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Convulsion
  • Confusion
  • Prolonged insomnia or inability to sleep
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Brain damage
  • convulsion
  • Increase heart rate and palpitation
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Heart beat too fast/ heart stop
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack and death
  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing fast
  • Exhaustion
  • Lung damage due to smoking
  • Other effects
  • Increase body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Reduced appetite ( anorexia)
  • Tremor
  • Increased Sweating
  • Jerky movements
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tremors
  • Jerky movements and twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Acne
  • Reduced immunity and prone to infections
  • Dental problems secondary to poor hygiene and dry mouth
  • Damage to nasal lining secondary to snorting
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Behaviour/psychological effect:
    • Restless
    • Talkative
    • Overconfidence and feels very powerful, this may lead you to dangerous stunts or activity
    • Increase sexual performance???
  • Psychotic or mad person behavior:
    • Panic attacks
    • Violent
    • Aggressive
    • Paranoia This may also lead to homicidal , killing others
    • Suicidal, ideas or attempt to kill yourself
Before After

So what actually happened to Mahmud?

Mahmud was lucky and he survived. He was then placed in an open ward and Hisham visited him again later. Mahmud had suffered head injury, fractured his jaw bone and left hand including multiple bruises and lacerations on his face and body.  He started asking Mahmud questions about what had happened. Mahmud admitted that he was taking ice almost every day. Actually he started using it for energy and to help him stay awake to study and work at same time. Later he realized that he had no appetite and felt very restless. He always felt that someone was following him and talking to him to harm him. This was what had happened on the night of the accident. He was driving home anxiously as he believed someone was following him. He increased his speed to get away from whoever he believed was following him. He couldn’t remember anything else until when he regained consciousness and realized   he was in a hospital with a lot of pain.It seemed Mahmud had lost control and drove into a trailer which stopped by the roadside. Hashim felt relieved that Mahmud was safe and in good hands at the hospital. He was sure the hospital staffs would provide appropriate care for his friend.

How can you help

  • Help yourself first. Stay away from drugs.

  • Get correct information regarding all the new things you want to venture into.

  • Always consult your parents, teachers, friends or anybody you can trust if you have any problem. They might be able to help you or advice you on what to do or where to seek help.

  • If you know a friend who involved with drugs, advise him to seek help. He can go to any health center or hospital and they can channel him to the correct person for treatment.

  • You can also approach the National Anti-Drug Agency ( AADK: Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan) for help.


  1. Medline Plus Trusted Health Information for you –http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007480.htm

  2. Mission Unity Treatment services – http://missionunity.org/354/meth-help/

  3. Australian Drug Foundation- healthy people strong communities

Last Reviewed : 7 April 2014
Content Writer : Dr. Salmah binti Nordin