Community leaders say nyaope is tearing Tshwane communities apart while there are too few rehabilitation centres to help people who use the drug.
Recently, NGOs from Eersterust, Hammaanskraal and Montana gathered for a march and prayer vigil in response to the area’s nyaope problem, which local community leaders say is fuelling crime and causing learners to leave school.
While nyaope has traditionally been a mix of heroin and dagga, it has also been reported to include a range of other ingredients such as rat poison and pool cleaner. According to the Guateng Departement of Community Safety, the drug can sell for as little as R35 a hit.
Soon after the march, OurHealth spoke to two nyaope users about the distance that the drug has put between themselves and their families, communities and futures.
Dimakatso Mahapa, 22, began using the drug when she was just 15 years old and says that her addiction has robbed her of her family’s affection – and the life she once knew.
“I used to be a loved and cared for child in my family but, because of nyaope, no one trusts me anymore,” says Mahapa who adds she wishes she could turn back time and return to that life.
Not enough facilities to treat those in need[quote float=”right”]”I should be working and having my own family but the addictions took that part of my responsible life”
Hooked on nyaope at the age of 25 years old, Jabulane ‘Zakes’ Hlatshwayo says he understands why his history of theft to support his habit has lost him the community’s trust.
“I am trying everything in my power to leave this addiction but it’s hard because of peer pressure and a lack community trust,” he told OurHealth. “The community does not accepts me as one of their own, and I feel lonely and neglected.”
Hlatshwayo says he was able to access one of the limited rehabilitation programmes sponsored by the Department of Social Welfare but that he relapsed after being released.
According to the Central Drug Authority, about 75 percent of former drug addicts will relapse and about half of these will relapse multiple times throughout their lifetime.
Hlatshwayo says he regrets his choices and is desperate for another opportunity to enter a rehabilitation programme.
Thabita Mosito is the Deputy Director of Tshwane’s Department of Health and Social Development. She said that while government has clearly laid out health as a priority, the country continued to struggle with too few rehabilitation centres.
“I wish we could absorb everyone with addictions problems into rehab (centres) but we do not have enough facilities,” says Mosito, who added that as a mother she sympathised with the plight of many parents who were worried about their children.
As of October 2013, pubic sector drug treatment facilities are only available in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and there were no public halfway houses.
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