Man relieved he won't lose his arm

An addict displays how he injects the deadly concoction into his blood stream.
An addict displays how he injects the deadly concoction into his blood stream.
Image: KABELO MOKOENA

A 26-year-old nyaope addict from Hammanskraal was shocked to find out that he was at risk of losing an arm because of his addiction.

The man, who asked not to be named because of the stigma, spoke to Sowetan while sitting on a hospital bed at Dr George Mukhari Hospital.

"I was scared when I heard that there was a possibility of my arm getting amputated. They told me that the pus was spreading and I was rotting inside," he said.

The father of one said he was admitted to the hospital over a week ago after he started experiencing severe pains in his arm. He said doctors at first considered amputating his arm because they were concerned that the infection would spread to his vital organs. However, they were able to contain it.

He started smoking the drug in 2007 but said his addiction intensified in 2010.

Last year, the man started experimenting with injecting the drug directly into his veins after a friend introduced him to this method of getting high.

"They call it 'battery to coil' because it hits the blood straight and gives you an instant high," he said.

The former electrician lost his job after he started stealing lights from his workplace and sold them on the streets to feed his addiction.

He said he was also worried that he was setting a bad example for his six-year-old son.

"I told myself that I'm gonna leave this thing when I get out of here. I want help because I don't want my son to end up like me," he said.

Two other addicts were also present in the ward but they declined an interview.

Outside the hospital, opposite the gate, a group of four men were spotted using the drug at a taxi rank. A 32-year-old addict stood while a syringe filled with nyaope hung from his flesh. He then drew a bit of blood and pumped it back into the vein.

"I inject myself but I don't mess with bluetooth [blood sharing]. I don't even share my needle with people," he said.

The man said he spent R200 per day on nyaope and said he was aware of the health risk.

"Some people die because of this. It's not that I like doing it. But most of us are stressed because we don't have jobs."

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