Ice Rehabilitation and Recovery
Addiction Treatment Options for Ice Addicts

Australia is in the grip of an ice pandemic. While methamphetamine user numbers remain relatively stable, recent times have brought a sharp increase in the use of high-potency crystal methamphetamine (also known by its street name ‘ice’). As the second most commonly used illicit substance after marijuana, the country has seen a large spike in people seeking rehab for ice addiction.
Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that has become increasingly popular in recent times. Stronger and more addictive than its powdered form (speed), ice can have a severe impact on the physical and mental well-being of users. Usually smoked in a wrap or injected, the short-term high that ice provides can last for 12 hours or more, though its negative consequences are far longer-lasting.

It is worth drawing a distinction between meth and crystal meth (ice) – although not a very large one. Crystal meth is simply a higher-potency form of methamphetamines, and are sometimes consumed in different ways. Repeated use of the drug has a devastating impact on your physical and mental health, often requiring ice rehabilitation treatment to break free of the resulting addiction.

In this article, you’ll learn more about:

ice addiction and mental health

The acute health and psychological burden that meth / crystal meth takes on each user’s body makes it one of the most dangerous of all substances. Being addicted to the drug can lead to permanent damage to vital organs, and can have severe impacts on cognitive functions.

Several Australian studies have found a high prevalence of mood disorder among meth users, with up to 75% of meth addicts reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. As a central nervous system stimulant, meth can have an untold impact on the user’s mental wellbeing, leading to heightened anxiety and depression-related symptoms. Meth users who experience anxiety issues and mood swings are at significantly greater risk of being hospitalised than users who do not suffer from a mood disorder.

Dependency on meth has led to an uptick in the number of suicides among users. According to a cohort study in 2011, meth users are at a high risk of suicide and risky behaviours, leading to detrimental health and mental well-being. One possible explanation for the increased risk of suicide among meth users is the fact that they tend to be more socially isolated than recreational drug users.

Meth users are prone to suffer from psychosis, delusions and extreme paranoia. On many occasions, meth-induced psychosis has been misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, as the symptoms of these two conditions can be very difficult to distinguish. 40% of meth users who are using the substance on a regular basis have reported experiencing some form of psychosis, and clinical studies have suggested that ‘meth binges’ are likely to result in symptoms like psychosis.

How ice users become ice addicts

Methamphetamine is anatomically comparable to dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Using methamphetamine results in the accumulation of dopamine, which produces a euphoric effect in the user. Dopamine is responsible for memory, attention, purposeful behaviour, and increasing pleasurable feelings. If used in a large quantity over time, a user’s neurotransmitters will become diminished, leading to lower levels of concentration, depression, lethargy and fatigue, insomnia, and lack of motivation.
Due to the nature of the substance, methamphetamine has a much longer duration of action and a larger percentage of the drug remains active in the user. Since the pleasurable effects fade even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly, users will feel a strong urge to maintain the effects of the drug by continuing to use it in larger doses. At this point, the user has gone from abusing the drug to being dependent on the drug.

When should you seek rehab for ice addiction

Seeking treatment for ice addiction can be a difficult step to take, but it is essential to act before it is too late. Keep a close eye out for the following symptoms, and seek help if the following phenomena apply to you or your loved one:

Psychological craving: Frequent users begin to associate people, objects and places with substance use, and these associations can become imprinted on the brain. Craving, a central symptom of addiction, is a very powerful learned response with stronger motivational triggers often brought on by specific memories.

Tolerance: Over time, you find yourself having to take more of the drug to reproduce a similar level of effectiveness. To simply stave off the unpleasant effects of withdrawal, ice addicts feel the need to increase the quantity as well as the frequency of their drug use.

Sensitisation: Repeated exposure to meth or crystal meth may eventually produce adverse reactions, which can result in hospitalisation and even death in extreme circumstances.

Physiological dependence: Ice addiction can be very challenging to overcome since it can alter the chemicals in the brain. Depending on the severity of the addiction, withdrawal symptoms can range from dysphoria, depression, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, and dramatic mood swings.

Student suffering for depression in young age

Signs and symptoms of ice addiction

Ice impacts people in different ways, but ice addicts often exhibit the following characteristics:
  • Increased levels of confidence
  • Alertness and energy
  • Repetitive behaviour 
  • Dilated pupils and dry mouth
  • Extreme sweating and teeth grinding 
  • Fast pulse and increased heart rate
  • Diminished appetite
  • Heightened sex drive

Long term effects of ice

Ice impacts people in different ways, but ice addicts often exhibit the following characteristics:
  • Excessive weight loss 
  • Insomnia 
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Weakened immune system
  • Difficulty at holding down employment or studying 
  • Reduced levels of fitness
  • Increased levels of anxiety, depression, paranoia and violence
  • Heart and kidney problems
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Drug dependence 
  • Heightened risk of sexually transmitted infections and diseases

Treatment approaches to ice rehabilitation

A wide range of effective treatment modalities and intervention techniques can be used in combination to treat ice addiction and the mental health aspects underlying substance abuse, such as:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) uses a series of cognitive and behavioural techniques that helps individuals identify a positive set of goals – while also empowering them to assert control over their lives and overcome their addiction.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a direct, holistic approach to counselling, which encourages substance users to change their behaviour by acting positively and decisively toward constructive ends. MI uses interviews to elicit and strengthen motivation. The vast majority of meth users lack self-esteem, therefore counsellors use MI as a tool to instil a positive spirit once again.
Drug counselling may take the form of individual sessions or group counselling – either in person or online. Individual sessions provide the opportunity to have deep, one-on-one sessions with a dedicated counsellor, while group sessions offer valuable peer support along with the chance to share your story with a like-minded group of people who can also advise on recovery techniques.
Ice withdrawal treatment, also known as detoxification or detox, can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting. This withdrawal process cleans the body of any toxic substances, in preparation for the commencement of a psychological-based treatment programme. The withdrawal process for a heavy user of ice tends to last between 10–15 days.
Inpatient rehab, also known as residential treatment, requires an individual to stay inside a rehab that offers a safe and undisturbed setting. It is a highly effective method of receiving ice addiction treatment because it provides comprehensive care far from the stresses, influences, and temptations that may have led to the addictive behaviour in the first place.

If ice is used regularly, the accompanying symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, will become more and more persistent. Integrated dual diagnosis treatment may be necessary for a successful recovery. After detoxification, ice addiction and any co-occurring mental health issues should be treated in parallel with each other.

Outpatient or inpatient rehab for ice addicts?

Outpatient rehab

Outpatient ice rehabs are less restrictive than inpatient programmes, but still typically require the client to visit the treatment centre for at least ten hours per week. During your time as an outpatient, you will focus on drug abuse education, behavioural therapy (in groups as well as individually), and learning how to cope with life without meth / crystal meth. Outpatient programmes are intended for ice users whose condition is considered mild, where a positive social support network is in place and no co-occurring conditions also exist.

Inpatient rehab

Inpatient rehab for ice users involves staying at the centre 24 hours a day in a highly controlled environment. Scheduled therapy sessions are similar to those in outpatient rehab, but the isolated setting and support facilities will enable you to fully focus on beating your addiction. The cost for inpatient treatment is substantially more than that of outpatient care, although inpatient treatment leads to a greater likelihood of avoiding relapse.
Empty chairs prepared for group psychotherapy session indoors

What happens in ice addiction rehab

The first step on your road to recovery is to check into a rehab centre. While you may feel nervous and slightly overwhelmed by the process, the staff at ice addiction rehab are fully trained professionals and can assist you at all times throughout your treatment.

STAGE 1: You will undergo an assessment procedure. The main aim of this step is to identify the severity of your addiction (pattern of use/frequency of use) and potential withdrawal symptoms, any use of other substances, and other issues pertaining to your overall health and mental well-being. This step is an essential part of the process, because your treatment plan will be created based on your own physical and mental needs. Throughout the course of your treatment programme, your treatment plan should also be revised and adapted according to how you respond to treatment in order to provide the best chance of recovery.

STAGE 2: You will likely have to take part in a medically assisted withdrawal process so you can be fit enough to take part in the rest of the treatment programme. During the withdrawal process, you will benefit from the availability of 24-hour medical attention and emotional support. Medical personnel will provide you with the necessary medical intervention to lessen any cravings and ease your withdrawal symptoms.

STAGE 3: You will take part in individual and group counselling sessions, psychotherapeutic treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and other evidence-based practices, which provide numerous tools and support mechanisms to aid in your recovery. Many ice addicts will also be suffering from other co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. These conditions can be successfully managed alongside treatment for ice addiction, provided they are diagnosed and treated at a centre capable of handling dual diagnosis cases.

STAGE 4: Once you have completed your primary treatment, you should continue to receive post-treatment support through an aftercare programme, which can come in many different forms depending on your rehab of choice. The main aim of an aftercare programme is to ensure you continue to recover while still receiving the proper guidance.

Ice rehab success rates

A 2012 MATES study showed that those who are dependent on methamphetamine are particularly suited to residential rehabilitation treatment. According to the study, those enrolled in a residential rehabilitation programme for methamphetamine addiction were more likely to be clean one year after treatment compared to those who received no formal treatment or only took part in a detoxification programme.

Furthermore, a recent Patient Pathways study found that 81% of participants who had been on some form of residential rehab programme were clean one year after completing it.

Long-term addiction recovery options

Although finishing a residential rehabilitation programme is a significant step on the road to recovery, it is also important to make use of the aftercare support offered by your treatment facility. The vast majority of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programmes will offer some form of aftercare support, which can be any number of things that are designed specifically to help support a person regarding their next steps toward recovery.

While not all are included in the standard rehab treatment package (unless otherwise stated below), the following programmes and resources can make the transition back to ordinary life far more manageable:
Intensive Outpatient Programmes (IOPs) are a type of outpatient treatment for recovering addicts. These involve attending scheduled day sessions at a rehab to receive counselling, therapy and other additional services. Another option is to reside in a sober living house. This is a less restrictive environment than full inpatient care, but it is nevertheless controlled and monitored. The aim of sober living programmes is to prepare you for returning to your normal environment and routine.
A central part of the recovery process is continued care and ongoing support, which is why many rehabs include and integrate additional telephone or online counselling into their treatment plan. When you have returned to your normal life, these types of additional services can give practical advice on how to manage day-to-day challenges, and stay on the road to recovery.

The availability of support groups for crystal meth addiction, such as Crystal Meth Anonymous in Australia has increased over the past few years. Currently, there are meetings in several suburbs in Sydney as well as regional cities in New South Wales and Queensland. Crystal Meth Anonymous provides support, information, and a platform for addicts to share their experience via in-person as well as online meetings.

SMART Recovery is a secular alternative to the widely known 12-step programmes made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Recently, the number of SMART Recovery meetings has grown in Australia. Open and closed groups are now held weekly in Melbourne, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Dandenong, Frankston, Sale, Shepparton, Sunbury, Wangaratta, Werribee and Wodonga. Meetings can take place in person and online.

How long is ice rehab?

The minimum stay at a residential rehab centre is around 30 days, while long-term stays can be up to 90 days or more. Your length of stay at a residential ice rehabilitation centre depends on numerous internal and external factors. The severity of your addiction, the length of the withdrawal process, how you cope with psychotherapeutic treatment, and the existence of any co-occurring disorders can all influence how long you will need to spend as an inpatient.

The cost of ice rehab in Australia

Getting into rehabilitation for ice addicts in Australia can be a tricky and expensive process; however, there are three options to consider:

OPTION 1: Health insurance If you have access to private medical insurance, you may be eligible to attend an ice rehabilitation clinic free of charge. At private hospitals offering rehabilitation programmes, health insurance may cover most of the costs. However, it can take some months before clients can use health insurance for rehab after first signing up. Without health insurance, these rehab beds cost about $800 per day.

OPTION 2: Public rehab – Opting to enrol in a rehabilitation programme at a government-funded rehab centre will mean waiting for a place to become available. Due to overwhelming demand, the average wait time is between three to six months. You will also be asked to contribute to your day-to-day living costs which can come to about $200-$300 per week.

OPTION 3: Private rehab – If you are not covered by private medical insurance or cannot get a place on a government funded programme, you can expect to pay upwards of $20,000 for a place at a private rehabilitation centre. Luxury rehabs in Queensland and New South Wales start from $40,000 and can reach up to $100,000 per month.

Drug addiction is a serious condition that typically gets worse with time. It is therefore essential to consider seeking immediate help for your addiction. Ignoring an addiction or failing to seek treatment for it could lead to further physical and mental health problems.

Outpatient drug counselling

While the cost of inpatient ice rehab may at first appear daunting, there are numerous government and non-governmental organisations that can provide outpatient counselling and day programmes at lower rates or free of charge.
  • If you are referred by your GP for counselling, Medicare will pay for up to 12 sessions for psychologists who are registered and endorsed in their system. Also worth noting is that some private health funds may cover counselling costs.
  • Counselling Online is an excellent resource that provides online counselling sessions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across Australia. Their counselling service for drug and alcohol problems is free of charge.
  • Another service to consider involves counselling sessions provided by your local Community Health Centre. Most Community Health Centres will have counsellors who can be seen free of charge. See your local White Pages directory, or contact ADIS for further details.
  • If you are considering seeking the services of a private psychologist/counsellor, the Australian Psychosocial Society (APS) recommends fees of $100 for a 30-minute counselling session, or to $360 for a two-hour session.
Psychologist interviewing his depressed patient during therapy

Affordable ice rehab in Thailand

Due to its relatively low cost of living and affordable, high-quality health care options, Thailand is fast becoming a main destination for Australians and New Zealanders seeking rehab for their ice addiction. With world-class inpatient rehab programmes now available at much lower rates than their Australian counterparts, Thailand offers excellent value in a prime location. Counsellors at its ice rehab centres are fully qualified and many of them come from Australia, bringing excellent standards of care to their facilities.
Featuring a variety of accommodation options and amenities at different price levels, Thailand is the perfect place to consider starting your journey on the road to recovery. Many ice rehabilitation centres in the country offer access to fitness centres, swimming pools, spas and outdoor attractions. You will also have the chance to participate and engage in social and cultural activities that you would never get to experience in Australia.
Are you ready to take the first step on your journey to recovery? Call us today for a confidential discussion about how we can help you overcome your ice addiction.
Grigg J., Manning V., Arunogiri S., Volpe I., Frei M., Phan V., Rubenis A., Dias S., Petrie M., Sharkey M. & Lubman D. I. (2018). Methamphetamine Treatment Guidelines: Practice Guidelines for Health Professionals (Second Edition). Richmond, Victoria: Turning Point. Kay-Lambkin, Frances J, et al. “The Influence of Depression on Treatment for Methamphetamine Use.” The Medical Journal of Australia, 1 Aug. 2011, www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/195/3/influence-depression-treatment-methamphetamine-use#i1096296. Marshall, Brandon D L et al. “Injection methamphetamine use is associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide: a prospective cohort study.” Drug and alcohol dependence vol. 119,1-2 (2011): 134-7. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.05.012 Glasner-Edwards, Suzette, and Larissa J Mooney. “Methamphetamine psychosis: epidemiology and management.” CNS drugs vol. 28,12 (2014): 1115-26. doi:10.1007/s40263-014-0209-8 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 33.) Chapter 2—How Stimulants Affect the Brain and Behavior. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64328/ McKetin, R., et al., Evaluating the impact of community-based treatment options on methamphetamine use: findings from the Methamphetamine Treatment Evaluation Study (MATES). Addiction, 2012. 107(11): p. 1998-2008. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03933.x

get independent advice

Enter your name and contact details to get started
Leading Institutions We Abide By