Dad determined to kick the habit for sake of his kids

DEALING WITH ADDICTION: A group of nyaope addicts leaving Hammanskraal Community Centre to get help at the Fabian and Florence  Ribeiro Rehab Centre. The person mentioned in the report is not in the picture. Photo: Ziphozonke Lushaba
DEALING WITH ADDICTION: A group of nyaope addicts leaving Hammanskraal Community Centre to get help at the Fabian and Florence Ribeiro Rehab Centre. The person mentioned in the report is not in the picture. Photo: Ziphozonke Lushaba

He lost his house, car, good looks and the respect of his wife and children after he started smoking nyaope.

He was hoping it would relieve him of the stress caused by losing his job.

But, eight years on, the father of five is filled with regret as he battles to kick the habit.

"I was stressed. I had no choice but to sell my house and car after I lost my job. I started by smoking dagga before my friend introduced me to nyaope. It made him sleep after smoking it and forget about his problems for a while, and I thought I should try it," he said.

He now lives in his parents' house with his wife and five children, and makes a living hustling at a local shopping centre where he also buys nyaope.

The drug is sold at an open field behind the Kopanong shopping complex in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, where scores of addicts gather daily for their fix.

"I hustle for the money. I push people's trolleys and carry their bags after shopping. I use some of the money to buy clothes for my children," he said.

He buys a fix for R30 a packet. He said it makes him sleepy and relaxed for a while, the effect is greater than the dagga he initially smoked.

Nyaope is packed in transparent plastic bags rolled into a ball. The contents are emptied onto a lightweight piece of paper, rolled and sealed with saliva. Addicts constantly spit on the paper to reduce the burning speed.

The roll is smoked until there is no space to hold it. As a result, most addicts are left with burn wounds on their lower lips.

The man admitted he is now a shadow of his former self. His wife said he has lost a lot of weight and his complexion is darker.

"We have beautiful light-skinned children and they take after him. He was well-built with muscles. Nyaope destroyed it all," she said.

He now appears sick and frail.

In 2013, he went into rehab through the help of social workers.

But he could not resist the temptation for another fix and discharged himself from the centre.

But now, he claims, he is more determined than ever to kick the habit. This is despite that, last week, his wife had to drag him kicking and screaming to a spot where other addicts were picked up by social workers to be taken to a rehabilitation centre.

"This time I will stay the course. My children hate the fact that I am an addict. It is affecting their lives and school work. I am willing to quit. I just need help," he said. - Pertunia Mafokwane

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