Nyaope, Whoonga by Eileen Botha

Locally formulated drugs Nyaope and Whoonga – cocktails of among other things, cannabis, heroin, rat poison and antiretroviral medication. It is mainly used by teenagers.

Thought to have been born some years ago in Chatsworth,Durban, and was known as ‘sugars’. Apparently sugars were later rebranded ‘whoonga’ to confuse authorities who were trying to crack down on the drug, which was rapidly spreading to the townships and the inner-city.

Heroin and dagga, the main narcotic ingredients of nyaope and whoonga, are dependence-producing substances and a recipe for destruction and early death.

The mixture costs around R20 a hit on the streets, but users quickly reach the point of needing more and more as it is ravenously addictive. The drug becomes unaffordable as most addicts smoke many times a day, so are forced to turn to crime to accommodate their habit. They lead chaotic lives, terrorise their families, and commit theft.

Withdrawals include brain-crunching headaches, debilitating stomach cramps, night sweats, nausea and joint pain.