Nyaope, a new killer on the block
26 October 2010 | Charmaine Slater
The mix has different names, including kataza, pinch and ungu.
The drug originated in 2006 in the Pretoria townships of Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi.
Nyaope is sometimes mixed with rat poison to enhance its effects. This easily affordable drug is spreading throughout South Africa.
The high from the drug lasts for between two to four hours.
Small doses of Nyaope causes euphoria and a sense of warmth and wellbeing while larger doses cause drowsiness, feelings of being content, safe and relaxed.
“Nyaope addicts tend to lead chaotic and criminal lives, revolving around getting their next fix. They explore various ways of obtaining money to buy the drug.
“The option for most is theft but women often turn to prostitution. As the drug takes hold and they stop thinking rationally, values and beliefs are forgotten," Ms Violet Madosi, a therapist at Wedge Gardens substance abuse centre, which is run by non-profit organisation Rand Aid based in Edenvale, said.
She added that Nyaope is so addictive that those in its grips have resorted to selling parts from their cars to pay for their next fix.
Personal hygiene becomes lax and addicts often do not eat proper meals.
The drug soon takes its toll on the body, with physical symptoms including severe withdrawals when Nyaope cannot be sourced, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, damage to the liver and the kidneys, lung complications and overdose which can lead to death.
Due to the severe withdrawal symptoms experienced, it is difficult to stop using Nyaope without professional help, which offers the medication necessary to control the worst of these symptoms.
“According to the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 10 teenagers a month seek rehabilitation.
“This shows that more and more people are becoming aware of the effects of Nyaope and are willing to go into a treatment programme," said Ms Madosi.
“The unfortunate part is that the treatment of heroin addiction is not cheap because of the high cost of the medication needed to control withdrawal symptoms,” she added.
“Although some rehabilitation centres in Gauteng offer subsidised beds for those in need of urgent treatment and without the means to pay for it, need often outstrips availability.
“It is vital that as a community we create an awareness of the dangers of drugs and support initiatives taken by the government and non-governmental organisations to curb drug use,” Ms Madosi said.
“Only through the combined efforts of society can spiralling drug abuse rates be curtailed. Report suspected drug dealers, support awareness efforts, talk to your teenagers about the dangers of drugs and suggest treatment options to those who may have become addicted,” she added.
Anyone wanting more information can contact Wedge Gardens on 011 430-0320.