Health-e (Cape Town)

25 April 2014

South Africa: Camp for Addicts Gives New Sense of Purpose

Thirty drug users from Mabopane, Winterveld and Garankuwa were invited to volunteer for a five-day rehabilitation camp in Heidelberg and the feedback has been encouraging.

Most of the people on the camp were users of nyaope.

Nyaope, also known as "whoonga", which is heroin-based but contains other substances including dagga, crystal meth, medicine - and even rat poison. The drug is relatively cheap, but users are known to need several hits a day.

The camp was organised by the Local Drug Action Committee (LDAC) and was funded by the Gauteng Social Development through the Tshwane regional office. It is meant to prepare participants to be admitted at rehabilitation centres around the province.

Lehlohonolo Mmethi a 19-year-old, told OurHealth he was very thankful for a chance at recovery: "My family is very disappointed in me, but they have given me their support."

Kearabilwe Tshetlo, 16-year-old, started taking nyaope when he was 12. He blames it on himself for "hooking up with older learners at school".

He also receives support from his parents who monitor his movements at school and says that he is ready for rehab.

Three health professionals were on the camp and were able to give first aid to those who experienced withdrawal symptoms from the drugs.

Some of the users experienced severe withdrawals and were referred to Heidelburg Hospital, but came back to the camp afterwards.

Nkele Ratlhogo, a mental health nurse from the local sub-district's department said: "These young fellows are so bright and innovative. We had one-on-one and group therapy sessions with them. The support is built to prevent relapse and to help each user get back to normality."

Wilhelmina Moremi, a social worker from Mabopane, said the counselling depended on users' preference for group or individual therapy and as a follow-up, users could make use of either in- or out-patient services.

The users also did some exercises to provide physical healing and were taught about nutrition and taking care of their bodies.

Mosa Ashley Mzolo, a sport and recreation officer from Mabopane, said: We took them mountain climbing and gave them a sense of what it is like to have a healthy life again."

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