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Home / Drug Addiction / Nyaope Addiction
  • What is a Nyaope addiction
    • Nyaope is a street drug that has come into widespread use across South Africa, especially in the poorer communities and informal settlements. It is a cocktail of various ingredients; the primary active ingredient being low-grade heroin, which is cut with various other substances such as Methamphetamine to bulk up the weight and price of the product. Media reports trace its origin to the Soshanguve and Mamelodi townships in Pretoria, in the early 2000’s.  It is known by different street names in other parts of South Africa : ‘whoonga’ or ‘sugars’ in KwaZulu-Natal and ‘pinch’ in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga regions. Nyaope was only classified as illegal in March 2014, with the amendment of the Drugs and Trafficking Act of 2014.
    • Data  gathered by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU), shows an increase in the number of patients reporting Nyaope as their primary substance of use in both 2017 and 2018 and the numbers are continuing to climb.

      There is a dearth of literature on the use of Nyaope and the impact it has on individuals and communities. What is known about the drug, has been largely reported  by the media and there has been some confusion around it. 

      Addiction to Nyaope is particularly pernicious and requires long-term treatment. Relapse rates are, at the moment, high for a variety of reasons. The mixture of Heroin and other strong chemicals leaves the addict both physically and psychologically dependent. Nyaope causes major changes to the chemistry of the brain. Recovering addicts need to learn new skills and be motivated to cope with the intense cravings that are associated with this addiction.

      Success rates for treatment improve, when the family become involved in the treatment. Successful recovery is very much dependent on the support received, the dedication to the programme and large changes in lifestyle. Standard rehabilitation programmes typically remove the addicted person from his or her social environment for a period, this alone is not sufficient for someone addicted to Nyaope, as after treatment, he or she returns to the same unfavourable social environment and triggers.
  • Methods of use
    • Nyaope is sold in powder form. It can be rolled and smoked with marijuana/tobacco, or it is diluted and injected intravenously.
  • The effects on the user
    • The high from Nyaope creates a feeling of euphoria, contentment and relaxation. The effects of smoking Nyaope are less potent, and as dependency builds, the preferred method changes to  intravenous use as this produces a more intense high. After the initial effects, a feeling of drowsiness can persist for several hours. 
  • Harmful side effects and health risks
    • May include:
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Infections of the blood, heart, skin, liver and kidneys
      • Respiratory problems
      • Extreme weight loss
      • Tremors
      • Sweating
      • Extreme muscle and bone pain
      • Drowsiness
      • Mood swings
      • Low levels of motivation
      • Mental confusion


      The drug may also trigger psychiatric episodes in people who already have a genetic vulnerability. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms
    • The extreme physical pain that results from abstaining from the drug, creates challenges in successful withdrawal. Nyaope temporarily relieves the pain associated with withdrawal, thereby creating a cyclical pattern of usage. 
    • Symptoms may include:
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Anxiety
      • Depression
      • Excessive yawning or sneezing
      • Stomach cramps
      • Severe muscle and bone pain
      • Fever
      • Sweats
      • Chills
      • Involuntary spasms
      • Diarrhoea


      It is thus recommended that withdrawal from the drug be conducted under the care of trained medical professionals together with experienced, trained, addiction counsellors. 


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