“I am going back to school and I am not using nyaope anymore, but I smoke cigarettes and dagga sometimes,” says Vilazkazi, who adds that peer pressure to continue smoking nyaope – a mix of heroin and dagga – is strong.
Although Vilazkazi says he’s doing fine. His mother, Betty, and father, Elias, say there is nothing “fine” about the young man from Block T who used to be a vibrant boy until was the age of 15. They are convinced he is using again.
“He has relapsed and is using nyaope and dagga again,” Elias says. “He steals from us and we cannot keep money in the house. He just takes anything he can sell to buy these things.”
Elias says the family does not know what to do anymore.
Dr Prakash Naidoo, a specialist in drug rehabilitation services who runs the Assisted Recovery Centres of Africa Clinics in Durban and Johannesburg. Naidoo says relapse is a hallmark of substance abuse and one of the reasons substance abuse should be treated like a chronic, relapsing disease.
Vilazkazi’s cousin, Yvonne Vilakazi, who is a community development worker, says the drug is available “at every corner” and she can point out several hot spots where drug dealers peddle nyaope.
In April, the community beat a young man from nearby Block M for stealing tyres. Community leader Benjy Mokone says that the young man had confessed to stealing in order to buy nyaope.