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Drug information > Stimulants > Tik (Crystal Methamphetamine)
The Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre




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What is Tik?

Tik is an odourless, crystal-like substance. It is a stimulant that speeds-up the functioning of the vital organs e.g. heart. It is highly addictive and harms the functioning of the Central Nervous System.

Street names: speed, ice, choef & straws

How is Tik used?

It is commonly smoked in a light bulb or a glass pipe called a “lolly”. The crystals are heated in the bulb/pipe and inhaled. It can also be swallowed, injected or sniffed for an immediate, intense high. The pattern of abuse is “crash and binge” (use a lot; go into withdrawal then use more to stop the withdrawal symptoms).

Symptoms of Tik use:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Accelerated speech
  • Agitation /Aggression
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia – problems sleeping
  • Unusual energy

What are the effects of Tik?

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss of concentration
  • Memory loss

What are the long-term effects?

  • Risk of addiction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic use results in psychosis, violence, confusion and risk of suicide


It is characterised by hallucinations (e.g. seeing and hearing things that are not true/real), extreme paranoia, delusions as well as violent outbursts due to panic and fear.

What to do if someone is psychotic?

The individual needs medical treatment immediately - go to emergency rooms at general hospitals or psychiatric hospitals.

How addictive is Tik?

The rate of addiction can be extremely fast for some people. Tolerance develops rapidly, so users need more and more to get high, and start going on longer and longer binges. Some avoid sleep for several days while using.

What happens when you STOP using Tik?

  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Stomach cramps
  • Back pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased appetite
The Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre
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Nelson Mandela
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