Sheila began noticing a change in her son Thulani towards the end of 2014.
Thulani’s older brother Nkululeko also noticed the change and the way Thulani increasingly barked orders at family members and even became violent.
“His behaviour made me suspicious,” Sheila said. “He confessed to me that he was using nyaope.”
“I knew he was smoking cigarettes, but never thought he would smoke nyaope,” added Shelia, who became so fearful of Thulani that she got a police protection order against him.
Thulani said that although he wants to quit, he is struggling to stop using the drug, which is a mixture of low-grade heroin often cut with ingredients like detergents and even rat poison.
“My problem is that I don’t know how I can stop,” Thulani said. “All the friends I have now smoke nyaope, and whenever we are together we smoke.”
In the meantime, the family is desperate to get the “old” Thulani back.
“All we need as a family is a rehab for my younger brother,” Nkululeko added.
OurHealth approached the Tsakane Youth Development Programme, which works with young people who use drugs. Programme chairperson Pule Moloi said the organisation would do what it could to support and motivate Thulani to get better.
“If the boy really wants help, he can come to our offices we will take it from there,” Moloi told OurHealth.