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South Africa’s 5 Most Dangerous Street Drugs: (5) Nyaope


First reported in Durban, Nyaope is also known as Whoonga. This addictive new and lethal drug has spread to townships and suburbia throughout South Africa. This highly toxic mix of mind-altering substances is also cheap and easily accessible, and very nasty in its addictive properties. Making Nyaope that much more menacing.

Nyaope or Whoonga: The Frightening Facts

The drug is distributed as a powder and is usually added to tobacco or marijuana. The noxious concoction is then smoked and the result is one of the most poisonous and deadly drugs in the world, alternatively, the powder is cooked and then injected.

Whoonga is extremely addictive. The side effects are frightening. The substance leads to violent outbursts, anxiety, severe depression, stomach cramps and a slowed heart rate. Heart and lung function quickly diminish when an overdose occurs, this is fatal.

The withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of alcohol and heroin. The user feels extreme cravings and physical aches and pains, temporarily relieved by renewed doses of the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can be deadly.

Whoonga costs very little and the addict requires several hits throughout the day, in the end, it all adds up. As the drug slips its way into the South African slums and targets the poor, crime can quickly become a way of life for the struggling addict.

It is the only way to get more of the drug, anything to stop the deadly pain that comes with Whoonga withdrawal.

Another disheartening fact is that due to the rising popularity of the drug Nyaope, many HIV/AIDs patients have been robbed of their medication while local government clinics are experiencing vast amounts of ARV thefts. If that is not saddening enough, some struggling patients sell their medication in an attempt to support their families – this is how deep the drug runs amongst the South African poor.

To quote an Al Jazeera report, “Backroom experimentation produces an ever-changing array of concoctions that offer a cheap and lethal high. With South Africa finally making inroads in the battle against HIV and AIDS after years of denialism, Nyaope is a dreadful blow.”

The South African authorities are well aware of the momentum of the drug as it gains traction throughout the country. The National Addiction Council and the police have said that they are doing what they can to stop this substance from spreading even more than it already has.

The drug is highly feared because most of the ingredients are legal, from rat poison to medication – they cannot be banned by Government. However, the main ingredient being heroin, is what makes this drug so dangerous and highly addictive.

Nayope components

Rat poison, ARVs (antiretrovirals), low-grade heroin and soap powder makes Nyaope a mixture of toxicity.

The main addictive component in Nayope is heroin. Nayope dealers will often introduce the drug as a super-powerful Marijuana blend. To make Nayope cheaper dealers add all kinds of substances into the mix to bulk up the size, profiting more from the drug sale.

Mixes range from traditional drugs, sulphates or cleaning chemicals, to any powder-based substance that can be scavenged.

This makes Nayope even more dangerous a problem as there is no way of telling what the other elements are put into the Nyaope mix that is sold on the street, the ingredients vary from place to place and dealer to dealer.

South Africa’s dangerous new drug trend ‘bluetoothing’

In January 2017, photos of Pretoria drug users “bluetoothing”, here nyaope users inject themselves with the drug. They then draw blood from themselves and pass the syringe to others who inject the blood and risk their lives for a fake high.

This went viral on social media pushed by a big media company’s news reporter ostensibly to get more ratings on a “hardcore” drug story. The media went ballistic over a period of a year on this and articles still surface on this imaginary process. Australian news in 2017
Addicts in the actual photos were interviewed and confirmed the story was false.

Unfortunately, the media coverage did actually encourage some addicts to attempt the procedure, which does not do anything beyond having a placebo effect and is more than likely to lead to syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and C infections among users than a high.

Is Nyaope addiction dangerous?

Yes Very – for a number of reasons

  1. Heroin is physically addictive and Nayope use can result in dependence on the drug.
  2. Marijuana can be mentally addictive and cause psychosis in some people.
  3. Other unknown substances/poisons in the mix can cause illness, organ failure or other serious or terminal conditions.

Negative Effects for Nyaope Users

Short-Term Effects

Nyaope or Whoonga use causes:

  • clouded mental functioning
  • Severe nausea,
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle and bone cramps
  • Sweats, itching & Chills
  • Spasms
  • Diarrhoea
  • Unsafe decision making.

Long-Term Effects

Besides the list above –

  • Nyaope addiction causes scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels, heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, liver and kidney disease.
  • Lung complications may result.
  • Sharing needles or fluids may result in hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne virus diseases.
  • It can even cause mental and psychotic breakdowns related to being HIV positive.

Nyaope addiction withdrawal

Withdrawals from Nayope are dangerous and should be done by experts in a clinical medically controlled environment.

Reports indicate that because of the low-grade heroin in Nyaope an addict needs several hits a day to stave off withdrawal symptoms. The effects of whoonga characteristically wear off in 4 – 8 hours depending on the individual.

Withdrawal from Nayope is especially traumatic and includes insomnia, extreme stomach cramps and vomiting. Heroin addiction causes withdrawal-related mood swings, aggression, feelings of anxiety and physical pain. Other ingested or intravenously taken chemicals can cause other complications and trauma.

Unfortunately, with Nayope, the quickest possible relief available is another hit, and then another one, and another one after that.

Why would anyone ever use Nyaope?

People use drugs because they want to change something in their lives or are looking for ways to forget their problems. The recent decriminalization of marijuana has caused it to be perceived as more acceptable in recreational use. For a while drugs will seem to help, but eventually addictive nature of drug use becomes bigger than the user’s problems and the addicted user will need to take the drug often to avoid withdrawals and attempt to feel normal.

What is the solution to prevent Nyaope addiction? 

There is really only one way and that is education. South Africans need to understand the dangers of the harmful effects of substance abuse and dependence-producing substances. For more information on dealing with Nayope addiction and other substance abuse, visit the Houghton House website.


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