Nyaope is a drug commonly found in townships, it’s also known as ‘whoonga’. The drug has been destroying the lives of many young people in South Africa, as it is highly addictive and expensive.This leads users to resort to crime in efforts of getting the drug. The drug is in high demand, which makes its illegal sale and distribution to be prolific, ultimately making it flourish; making it one of the most lucrative illegal businesses in South Africa.
Addiction to nyaope is on the rise and the users usually say they enjoy the debilitating effect of the drug. Nyaope is a street market drug that is on the same level with other drugs like ‘crystal methane, cocaine etc.’Ntombi Bhengu, a 32 year old lady residing in Tsakane, was hooked on nyaope for ten years. She tells Ekurhuleni News about her drug addiction path and her adversities in trying to break the habit.She started using whoonga when she was 22 years, she was just experimenting and she eagerly wanted to fit in among her peers, she found a group of friends smoking and decided to try it. “Smoking nyaope did not only rob me of my future but my family as well.” After trying that one fix, she could have decided not to carry on with it but instead she continued smoking anyway. “I was working then as a cleaner and I’d start having cravings now and then and I needed to feed my habit as often as possible”.That’s when she began dating a nyaope boy, who would go to do odd jobs, like pushing trolleys for costumers at a retail store but didn’t make enough money. Things went south when they started doing crime as a quick way of making money. “My boyfriend was now stealing and robbing people of their money, cellphones and household belongings”.
There’s nothing people around her didn’t do to try help her and her family. Her mother is a church goer and seeing people talking behind her back about how she goes around preaching and motivating but could not control her own daughter broke her. “She would pray for me and she tried talking some sense into me, but she was just talking to a wall, her words didn’t get through to me, from there on it was over for me”.She later decided to leave home with the hope of changing her life but she found herself with the wrong crew again. “The tricky part is that when you start using, quitting often becomes a challenge because you miss that feeling of being out of this world. Even when I tried quitting, I couldn’t stand the withdrawal drug pains”.She believes that it all starts with one-self; it’s the users choice if they decide to quit smoking then people who are willing to help can intervene from there on. “My mother was very patient with me and was willing to help me to quit smoking”.“People would look at drug users and assume that they are enjoying it, but the truth is that we all have different stories to tell “. They all need help, they just need help and support.
To her it all changed when she allowed her family to take her to rehab, after that she took it to herself to make sure that she never smokes again. She does not smoke nyaope anymore and she’s no longer dating her ex-boyfriend, as he was not willing to quite. She says that not having anything to do isn’t helping either, “but if I were to get a job it would be much better, because I won’t be tempted to go back to what I used to do”.The victimization towards addicts from the community is not helping, since they often feel isolated and need a sense of belonging and they find that in each other. “I also wish to be united with the society and be whole again”.Nyaope lives in our communities, tearing families apart and killing any sort of hope of a better future for the youth.