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We Asked Some Older People What They Know About Ice

While young Australians are taking it up, the legislation around its management is laid out by older people. So what do they know about it?

Image via Flickr user Wise County Messenger

Ice is big news: the prevalence of the drug's use in Australia is increasing and people are freaking out about it. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's annual survey of illicit substance using individuals found 61 per cent who inject substances had used ice in the last six months. That's a lot.

Like most drug stories the focus is largely on its use and damage among young people, while the legislation around its management is laid out by older people. So what do they know about it?


All photos by the Author unless noted otherwise.

Tony, 66, pensioner

VICE: What's ice?

I've heard of it but never seen it. It's a drug. On the television they chase it, this that, but I have never seen it.

What do you think being on ice feels like?

No idea, probably like a drunk; not all there.

What does it do to people?

Damages them—health wise, behaviour wise, and their social life.

Have you ever used drugs?

Nah. Thank god.

You're smoking a cigarette right now though.

Yes. But nobody kills anybody over cigarettes. I still have my head when I smoke.

When was your first cigarette?

Probably when I was about 16. It's easy to get hooked on; I tried once and never stopped since.

What made you light up that first cigarette?

It sort of made me feel like a man. I thought I would never smoke – but I was with friends. I tried one, it didn't taste good. But one became two and now here I am.

Les, 68, former labourer.

What is ice?

It's a drug. I think it's like cocaine but made from chemicals—different amphetamines.

What do you think being on ice feels like?

I don't know myself, but I can imagine. I'm a punter I like to gamble. And it's the same experience—a win for a gambler and a high for a drug user. Both crash your pocket and hurt your brain, it can drive you crazy. I can imagine it's like a kid looking up at fireworks for the first time.

Have you ever used drugs?

I had one and a half marijuanas about 12 years ago just to try.


Did you like it?

It wasn't my thing. It made me feel dopey, I don't like feeling dopey. (laughs). I do enjoy a drink though. With a drink you feel happy. Of course it's a different effect with different people but with me it makes me happy – full of life.

If you were made Prime Minister today, what would you do to stop ice use amongst the nation's youth?

There's no short cut. You've got to educate from a very young age. No sugar coating things—show them real images of real consequences of drug abuse. People will say that it's bad to shock children but that's the only way—that's life. Show them the ugly truth so they will be smart enough to know what it means when they do try it—if they ever do.

Marseille, 64, Events Co-ordinator

What is ice?

I think it is a form of Crystal Meth.

What do you think being on ice feels like?

From what I have heard and read, it gives the user a huge rush and then a scary crash. I think it also gives way to anger and violent behaviour in many users.

Have you ever used drugs?

In my younger days I used Marijuana, Hash, LSD and Magic Mushrooms. Having a joint in California in the late 60s was so much fun I began to see there was more to who I was. Smoking quality Mexican grass gave me incredible experiences I will never forget. Later in Australia I had LSD and I had the most mind blowing experience ever. I saw unlimited consciousness of being. That experience was a gift, forever altering my view of god and the oneness of life. I had cool friends who had contacts in the music field and access to very clean acid. They were about 10 years older and had tripped quite a bit I trusted them and they looked out for me, making it a safe and relaxed environment for me to explore myself. I realized I didn't need nor want to trip anymore. Happy having a joint became the extent of my drug of choice.


Why do you think people turn to drugs - young people and ice in particularly?

Ice seems to attract a different type of person than, say, the ones using marijuana. A lower level of awareness seems to go along with Ice. Quite scary.

What steps would you implement, if you had the power, to stop people using ice?

Now this is not something I can see as an easy thing to do. It seems that the money being made in this area is great enough to keep it going. Watching the series Breaking Bad was quite an eye opener. Education aimed at young people is the first thing I would be looking into. Peer knowledge is where we all learn so much in life.

Naum, 68, Retired

What's ice?


What do you think being on ice feels like?

No idea. It'll do damage to you.

What kind of damage?

It's gotta be bad, same as marijuana. People say marijuana doesn't affect you but it does in the long term.

You're smoking a cigarette.

I smoke cigarettes and I drink beer. But that's all.

Why do you think young people do drugs?

Because they haven't got enough brains to keep away from them.

What would you do to stop the ice problem?

Lock up all the users; you'll need a big jail though.

Sue, 55, Academic

What is ice?

It's a drug, a methamphetamine.

What do you think being on ice feels like?

I have very little idea; I assume it gives you a high initially, like most drugs. Then eventually it makes you very anxious and agitated.


Why do you think young people do drugs?

I think young people experiment as much as they possibly can. They want to try new things and that's just one of the things they try. Sometimes they're depressed and frustrated and they're looking for widening experiences as a sort of escape.

How are we going to stop people using ice?

I don't think we're going to stop it. But we can certainly manage it better. The first step is education.

Gary, 62, Retired

What is ice?

It's a form of crystal meth I think.

What do you think being on ice feels like?

I'd describe it as a euphoric hit the first time then eventually you start withdrawing from that euphoria and it's like ants crawling all over you. Don't know if that's right but that's what I've heard.

What kind of effects do you think it has on people?

Apart from endangering their lives and other people's lives through irrational actions, if they survive that then in the long term it has got to damage your brain.

Have you ever used any drugs?

No mate, I don't even smoke! I do like XXXX and a little drop of brandy.

If alcohol was made illegal tomorrow, would you consider buying it off a dealer on the streets?

Probably, but because I'm such a goody goody I'd probably just swear off the stuff. If it's there I'll drink it but if it's not there I don't seem to worry about it.

Why do you think young people fall into drugs?

I really do think something's missing in the youth of today. They have to experience everything as there's this fear of missing out. We were much more patient in our day. Now days kids need to have the best of the best as fast as they possibly can.

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