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“Ice” (crystal methamphetamine): concerns and responses

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There is no cause to feel impotent, despite disturbing media reports about methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has been around for some time. Although it is now available in a crystal form that is more potent and more readily smoked than earlier forms, no-one should feel impotent in the face of widespread alarmist commentary about this drug.

The recent National Ice Taskforce Report1 describes a pattern of increasing use of methamphetamine over the past decade. Compounding the effect of the shift in use from the older amphetamine sulphate to methamphetamine (in powder or crystal form) is the increase in purity of illicit methamphetamine: the purity-adjusted price (the dose obtained for a given price) is now similar for both methamphetamine forms,2 so that users obtain much larger doses. This probably underlies the evidence of more regular and greater levels of dependent use among people who use the drug, and also some of the increases in observed harms.3

The medical profession is pivotal in responding to these changes, and needs to provide clear, evidence-based responses and care for those affected; it is not “someone else’s problem”.

People who use methamphetamine come into contact with the general health care system for a number of reasons, ranging from problems directly related to…