Make nyaope freely available, like ARVs

The illegal drug nyaope, which is devastating communities, should be legalised and a replacement drug to treat addiction be made available at all healthcare centres, just like ARVs.

This is the view of an academic who is partnering a project aimed at providing treatment for addicts in Pretoria.

Yesterday Professor Jannie Hugo of the department of family medicine at the University of Pretoria said on the sidelines of a press conference on the effects of substance abuse that these measures would make the drug addiction manageable.

The drug, which contains heroin, dagga, ARVs and rat poison, has led to many social ills.

Last week Sowetan reported that HIV-positive people who use the drug were putting their lives at risk because they often stopped taking treatment and did not eat, while the substance devastated their health.



"Nyaope contributes to the spread of TB and HIV. Addicts do not care about taking treatment. It has the potential to devastate entire communities," said Hugo.

"Legalise the drug. I am not apologetic about it. I know there might be other effects but we work with nyaope-addicted children and I am telling you, it would be better if this thing was legal."

Hugo said nyaope was impossible to manage and should be supplied and taxed like cigarettes. He argued that it must be treated with the same priority as HIV. He said a replacement drug to treat nyaope addiction should be made available at healthcare centres, like ARVs

"Nyaope is more detrimental than HIV. Legalise nyaope so that you can control it. Then those boys will not have to commit crime. We need to focus on controlling it but now the focus is on the crime part of it."

Hugo said the focus should not be on rehabilitation only "as it is not a solution for the scale of problems we have. It is a waste of time if it is not used with replacement drugs."

Hugo said a person who takes the replacement drugs will not have cravings. He said they plan to get funding from the City of Tshwane's budget on drugs to fund the replacement drug for addicts.

But the SA Depression and Anxiety Group said such a move would create more problems.

"Legalising the drug will open up more problems. It will be accessible and lead to more people being addicted. More families will be helpless. It will have a negative impact on the work we do to help people," said operations director Cassey Chambers.

Chambers added that treatment should be accessible while national health department spokesman, Joe Maila, said they were not considering legalising the drug.