Amphetamine or Methamphetamine is sometimes smoked in glass or pyrex pipes or in aluminium foil heated by a flame underneath. It must be heated (not burned) to cause the smoke.
Is smoking more or less harmful than other routes?
A recent study investigating the harms from smoking crystal methamphetamine found that smokers of methamphetamine were more likely to be users of a higher purity form of the drug (i.e. crystal) and therefore were more likely to be heavier users with a potential to incur more problems associated with their use than those who use less pure forms of the drug.
[Kinner, S. A. and Degenhardt, L. (2008). Crystal methamphetamine smoking among regular ecstasy users in Australia: increases in use and associations with harm. Drug and Alcohol Review,27:3292-300]
Smoking, in and of itself, did not pose further risks than other routes of administration. It is the heavy use of crystal meth (ice) that is associated with more harm. This also implies that changing from injecting to smoking will reduce the potential for harm.
With this in mind we do see a few particular risks for smoking and have some suggestions. These include:
- Dental damage due to caustic vapours
- Hold the pipe with the end of the tube behind your teeth
- Rinse your mouth frequently
- Burns from hot glass, direct flame, or a hot lighter
- Don’t apply flame directly to the glass, keep it below and move it around
- Don’t apply a constant flame, gradually heat the product
- Consider making a needle lighter
- Try a Pyrex pipe
- The vapours are pretty toxic to your lungs. Don’t hold your hit in your lungs (don’t hold your breath)
- Try not to hold the pipe with your lips
- Avoid plugging the pipe with your tongue and keep a drink handy to rinse your tongue between smokes
- Slow gradual heating of a small load, and take breaks
- Legal problems associated with possession of smoking equipment
- Don’t carry equipment around with you, or leave it on display
- Transmission of infections if sharing equipment
- Use your own equipment or wash it well between
- Keep a spare pipe handy for friends
- If you don’t want to waste smoke, rather than pass the pipe around consider blowing extra smoke into a balloon to use later
Most States and Territories in Australia have specific laws relating to the possession of equipment. Ice pipes are now illegal in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.
We recommend that you check out the relevant rulings for your State or Territory.