COVID-19 information for people who use ice

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is serious – and it’s spreading.

Symptoms include fever, coughing, a sore throat, and breathing problems.

Most cases are mild, but it can be very severe.

People who use ice face unique risks when it comes to coronavirus.

If you use ice, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

Risks for people who use ice

Using ice might put you at greater risk of contracting coronavirus.

Ice can damage your heart and lungs, which is the same part of the body that coronavirus affects.

Ice can weaken your immune system.

Using ice may reduce your awareness of the basic hygiene we all need to follow to stop coronavirus spreading.

Coronavirus can live on the equipment and objects you use to smoke, snort, swallow and inject ice – such as needles, banknotes and pipes – for hours.

It’s important that you don’t use other people’s equipment, don’t share your own, and clean your stuff as often as you can with swabs or an alcohol-based cleaner (with at least 60% alcohol).

For some people, ice use can cause severe itching that leads to sores on the skin that are easily infected.

Some people either lose touch with the news and other important public health information — or can’t readily access it — while using ice.

Right now, it is important to stay connected with the news as important community updates are being made very often.

General advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus

It is very important to follow reliable advice about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus to yourself, your loved ones and the community.

Here is some important advice:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer (watch this helpful video).
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Sneeze away from others and away from high-contact surfaces if you can. Dispose of your tissues.
  • No tissue? Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, away from others and high-contact surfaces, where possible.
  • Continue healthy habits: don’t smoke, exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.
  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60% alcohol.
  • Stay at home if you feel sick and follow physical distancing rules.

Make sure you read and understand this.

The Victorian Government is putting out regular and reliable information about coronavirus and how to stay safe. Find it here.

Taking care of your health

As coronavirus keeps spreading, the health system will be very busy and some of the shops and services you use will probably close.

Taking care of your own physical and mental health is always important but especially now.

Prepare healthy food to eat before, during and after you use ice. Eat healthy food as much as possible.

Eating and sleeping on ice can be tough but skipping meals and sleep will harm your health.

Stay hydrated by regularly drinking water and drinks with electrolytes (like Powerade).

Create a safe sleep environment. Create a sleep routine. Take regular breaks from using and don’t ignore signs of tiredness. If you want to sleep but can’t, try to rest and relax.

Get fresh air and take a walk around the block.

Take self-isolation seriously

Some health services you rely on might be closed.

You might need to self-isolate. It’s important to be prepared.

Ensure you have enough harm reduction equipment, including syringes, pipes and straws, and a sharps container.

Make sure you clean them regularly using swabs, alcohol-based cleaners or diluted bleach (a concentration of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water is recommended).

Try to have medications, healthy food and drinks readily available where you are.

Have a detox plan in place, in case you voluntarily or involuntarily stop using ice or other drugs (your dealer might get sick and you might lose access to your supply).

Your detox plan

When you’re coming down from ice, you feel exhausted and want to sleep. You might feel sore. You’ll probably be hungry. You might also feel sad, anxious or depressed.

Your symptoms might last for 10 days – or even longer.

If you’re planning to detox or think that you might detox while coronavirus is spreading, it’s a good idea to prepare now:

  • See a doctor ASAP to learn how to reduce the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.
  • Call DirectLine (1800 888 236) to find out what services can provide you with extra support and information during coronavirus. Contact them if you just need somebody to talk. Or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or text them on 0477 13 11 14.
  • Eat healthy food, and drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Try to have someone you trust with you. Detoxing alone can be scary and dangerous.
  • Seek support from the community. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery are great for this. Get in touch and attend online meetings.

If you keep using ice during coronavirus outbreak, avoid close physical contact with your dealer, mates and co-users, and avoid increasing your sexual activity.

If you do come into contact with your dealer or take drugs with other people, prepare your own drugs, don’t share equipment, wipe down drug packages and wraps: click here for many more essential tips from Penington Institute.

Stay in close contact with mates and loved ones.

Send them a text or give them a call. Support each other if you can.

Reach out for support

Coming down or cutting out ice is tough but doable. Add coronavirus and it’s even harder – but sooner is better than later.

If you are feeling anxious, ask for help.

Reach out for support to your own network, family or friends.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Smart Recovery Australia are all holding online meetings.

Put their numbers into your mobile or somewhere you won’t lose it.

  • Narcotics Anonymous: 1300 652 820 or 0488 811 247
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: (03) 9529 5948
  • Smart Recovery Australia: 02 9373 5100 is a great place for young people, their families, and schools to find support too.

You can also contact DirectLine (1800 888 236) for free and confidential alcohol and drug counseling and referral.