Drug Resource Information

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The resources below have been provided to help narrow your search to specific, targeted drug information. Information is available for both consumers and healthcare professionals.

Some South African Drug Statistics

  • Drug consumption in South Africa is twice the world norm.
  • 15% of South Africa’s population have a drug problem.
  • Drug abuse is costing South Africa R20-billion a year and could pose a bigger threat to the country’s future than the Aids pandemic.
  • According to SAPS figures, 60 percent of crimes nationally were related to substance abuse. The perpetrators of these crimes are either under the influence of substances, or trying to secure money for their next fix.
  • The recently-released United Nations World Drug Report had named South Africa as one of the drug capitals of the world.
  • The abuse of alcohol and usage of dagga has lead to the country to being one of the top ten narcotics and alcohol abusers in the world.

Source: World Health Organisation

Common Abused Drugs

South Africa is by far the largest market for illicit drugs entering the Southern African region. Little is known about how the retail markets function and are priced for cannabis, heroin, cocaine powder, methamphetamine, and Mandrax (methaquolone) amongst others. A review of several data sources published by agencies (police, treatment, public health), isolated research projects,  provide important hints about the general aspects of illegal drug markets in South Africa. Below are some of the details of commonly abused drugs in South Africa

What are the long-term affects of abusing drugs mentioned below?

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • learning
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • stress
  • memory
  • behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

What is it?

Prescription stimulants used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Used as a study aid, to stay awake, and to suppress appetites. Prescribed as Adderall®, Concerta®, Dexedrine®, Focalin®, Metadate®, Methylin®, Ritalin®.


Street Names

Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, Ice, Speed, Uppers


How it is Taken

Orally or injected. “Ice” or crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride is smoked.


Paraphernalia
Needle
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • Similar to cocaine, but slower onset and longer duration
  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, physical exhaustion
  • Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia: paranoia, hallucinations, violent and erratic behavior
  • Overdose can be fatal

Read more about Amphetamines

What is it?

Depressants that produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and prevent seizures. Available in prescription pills, syrup and injectable preparation. Prescribed as Valium®, Xanax®, Restoril®, Ativan®, Klonopin®.


Street Names

Benzos, Downers, Nerve Pills, Tranks


How it is Taken

Orally or crushed and snorted


How does it affect the body?
  • Calming, euphoria
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams
  • Amnesia, hostility, irritability
  • Overdose may be fatal. Signs: shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma

Read more about Benzodiazepine

What is it?

White, crystalline powder derived from coca leaves. Cocaine base (crack) looks like small, irregularly shaped white rocks.


Street Names

Coca, Coke, Crack, Crank, Flake, Rock, Snow, Soda Cot


How it is Taken
  • Snorted
  • Dissolved in water and injected
  • Crack cocaine is smoked
  • Cocaine users usually binge on the drug until they are exhausted or run out of cocaine.
Paraphernalia
Needle
Pipes
Spoon
Straw

How does it affect the body?
  • Smoking or injection creates an intense euphoric “rush”
  • Tolerance builds quickly, easy to overdose
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, paranoia
  • Insomnia, loss of appetite
  • Stroke or death
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Convulsion
  • The crash that follows a high is mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users crave cocaine again.

Read more about Cocaine

What is it?

Synthetic psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant and a hallucinogen. The pill form comes in a variety of logos and colors.

Street Names

Adam, Beans, Biscuit, Clarity, Disco Biscuit, E, Eve, Go, Party Drug, Lover’s Speed, MDMA, Peace, STP, X, XTC, Molly

How it is Taken
  • Swallowing  gel capsules (Molly), pills, tablets
  • Powder, crystal, liquid
  • Crushed or snorted
  • Occasionally smoked 
Paraphernalia
Glow Sticks
Pacifier
How does it affect the body?
  • Increased motor activity, alertness, heart rate, blood pressure
  • Muscle tension, tremors, teeth clenching, nausea, sweating
  • Euphoria, empathy, reduced inhibition
  • Chills, blurred vision
  • Confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, severe dehydration
  • Sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can lead to liver, kidney and cardiovascular failure and death

Read more about Ecstasy

What is it?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don't know that they are purchasing fentanyl  which often results in overdose deaths.


Street Names

Apace, China Girl, China Town, China White, Dance Fever, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Poison and Tango & Cash


How it is Taken

Clandestine fentanyl is typically injected, or inhaled like heroin.


Paraphernalia
Needle

How does it affect the body?
  • Intense, short-term high
  • Temporary feelings of euphoria
  • Slowed respiration and reduced blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Death

Read more about Fentanyl

What is it?

Prescribed as Xyrem, it is also known as the "date rape drug.” It comes in a liquid or as a white powder that is dissolved in water, juice, or alcohol. In liquid form, GHB is clear and colorless and slightly salty in taste.


Street Names

G, Georgia Home Boy, Goop, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid X, Scoop, Liquid Ecstasy


How it is Taken
  • Usually a liquid, mixed in a beverage 
  • White powder normally dissolved in a liquid

How does it affect the body?
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria, drowsiness, decreased anxiety, excited and aggressive behavior
  • Overdose symptoms: unconsciousness, seizures, slowed heart rate, greatly slowed breathing, lower body temperature, vomiting, nausea, coma, death
  • Addictive

Read more about GHB

What is it?

An opiate (narcotic) drug processed from morphine and extracted from certain poppy plants. Heroin comes in a white or brownish powder, or a black sticky substance known as “black tar heroin.” Often “cut” with other drugs or substances such as sugar or powdered milk. User is unaware how much actual heroin is being used, creating likelihood of overdose.

Street Names

Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra, Smack, Thunder

How it is Taken

Injected, smoked, or sniffed/snorted. High purity heroin is usually snorted or smoked.


Paraphernalia
Needle
Pipes
Spoon
Straw
How does it affect the body?
  • Highly addictive
  • Initial surge of euphoria or “rush,” followed by a twilight state of sleep and wakefulness
  • Physical symptoms of use include: drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities
  • Overdose symptoms: slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death

Read more about Heroin

What is it?

Invisible, volatile substances found in common household products, e.g., felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, typewriter correction fluid, butane, computer cleaners, glue. Includes more than 1,000 products that are harmful when inhaled.


Street Names

Huff, Rush, Whippets, Gluey


How it is Taken
  • Inhaled through nose or mouth
  • Huffing inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in mouth
  • Inhaling from balloon with nitrous oxide
  • Sniffing or snorting the substance from a container or dispenser
  • Inhaling fumes from substances in a bag
Paraphernalia
Aerosol
Balloons
Rag

How does it affect the body?
  • Slight stimulation, feeling less inhibition, loss of consciousness
  • Damages sections of brain controlling thinking, moving, seeing
  • Slurred speech, loss of coordination, euphoria, dizziness
  • Long term use may cause damage to nervous system and organs
  • Sudden sniffing death may occur from suffocation or asphyxiation

Read more about Inhalants

What is it?

General, short-acting anesthetic with hallucinogenic effects. Sometimes used to facilitate sexual assault crimes.


Street Names

Special K, Cat Valium, Kit Kat, K, Super Acid, Super K, Purple, Special La Coke, Jet, Vitamin K


How it is Taken
  • Injected
  • Liquid mixed with liquids
  • Powder that is snorted, mixed in drinks, or smoked
Paraphernalia
Needle

How does it affect the body?
  • Hallucinations, which last 30-60 minutes
  • Distorts sights and sounds
  • Induces feelings of calmness and relaxation, relief from pain
  • Immobility and amnesia
  • Body feels out of control
  • Agitation, depression, unconsciousness
  • Flashbacks

Read more about Ketamine

What is it?

Stimulant drug made from the leaves and twigs of the evergreen shrub. Active ingredients are cathine and cathinone.


Street Names

Abyssinian Tea, African Salad, Catha, Chat, Kat, Miraa, Oat, Qat, Quaadka


How it is Taken
  • Chewed
  • Dried khat is used as a tea or chewable paste
  • Smoked, sprinkled on food
Paraphernalia
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • Manic behavior with grandiose delusions
  • Chronic use can cause depression and suicide
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, nightmares
  • Euphoria, increased alertness and energy, hyperactivity
  • Increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Cardiac complications
  • Insomnia, gastric disorders

Read more about Khat

What is it?

A very strong hallucinogen, odorless and colorless, with high potential for abuse.


Street Names

Acid, Blotter Acid, Dots, Mellow Yellow, Window Pane


How it is Taken
  • Added to absorbent paper such as blotter paper and divided into square dosage units
  • Tablets or capsules
  • Occasionally in liquid formÂ
How does it affect the body?
  • Hallucinations
  • Distorted perception of shape and size of objects, colors, and sounds
  • Acute anxiety and depression
  • Flashbacks days and even months after
  • Elevated heart rate, higher body temperature, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils
  • Overdose symptoms: longer, more intense episodes, psychosis and death

Read more about LSD

What is it?

Mind-altering psychoactive drug. Dry, shredded, green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds and leaves from the cannabis sativa plant THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect.

Street Names

Aunt Mary, BC Bud, Chronic, Dope, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Herb, Joint, Mary Jane, Mota, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla, Skunk, Smoke, Weed, Yerba


How it is Taken
  • Smoked as a cigarette or in pipe or bong
  • Smoked in blunts (cigar emptied of tobacco and filled with marijuana, and sometimes mixed with additional drugs)
  • Mixed with food (edibles)
  • Brewed as tea
Paraphernalia
Bongs
Pipes
Roach Clips
Rolling Paper

How does it affect the body?
  • Relaxation, disinhibition, increased appetite, sedation, increased sociability
  • Effects memory and learning
  • Difficulty in thinking and problem-solving
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired judgment, reduced coordination
  • Distorted perception
  • Decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, nausea, tachycardia
  • Confusion, anxiety, paranoia, drowsiness
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Addictive

Read more about marijuana

What is it?

Stimulant that speeds up body’s system that comes as pill or powder. Available in prescription as Desoxyn® to treat obesity and ADHD. Crystal meth resembles glass fragments and is an illegally altered version of the prescription drug that is cooked with over-the-counter drugs in meth labs.


Street Names

Meth, Speed, Ice, Shards, Bikers Coffee, Stove Top, Tweak, Yaba, Trash, Chalk, Crystal, Crank, Shabu


How it is Taken
  • Powder, pill
  • Smoked, snorted, injected
  • To intensify the effects, users may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their method of intake
Paraphernalia
Needle
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • Highly addictive
  • Agitation, increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased respiration and body temperature
  • Anxiety, paranoia
  • High doses can cause convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, stroke or death

Read more about Methamphetamine

What is it?

Cat is one of South Africa's more recent "drugs". It is a cheaper stimulent alternative to cocaine and ecstasy, commonly found in the club / party scene and has a number of psychoactive, stimulant and ultimately addictive properties. But what is CAT?
Methcathinone derives from cathinone, a naturally occurring stimulant drug, found within the khat plant, Cathula edulis. Cheap and easy to manufacture, tolerance develops quickly, and the user may develop also psychological dependence with more frequent use. Today it can be made in home kitchens using relatively common ingredients.


Street Names

Cat, Jeff, Catnip, M-Kat, kat or Intash


How it is Taken

Methcathinone can be taken orally, smoked, injected, or snorted. The most common method being by nasal inhalation.


Paraphernalia
Needle
Straw

How does it affect the body?
  • Anxiety
  • Convulsions
  • Delusions
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Muscle twitching
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors Withdrawal Early withdrawal symptoms of anxiety and profuse sweating can precede convulsions, hallucinations, and severe depression.

Read more about CAT

What is it?

Non-synthetic narcotic (opioid) made from opium, prescribed as Kadian®,MS-Contin®, Oramorph SR®, MSIR®, RMS®, Roxanol®. Very effective for pain relief, high potential for abuse.


Street Names

Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God's Drug, Hows, MS, Mister Blue, Morpho, Unkie


How it is Taken
  • Injected
  • Oral solutions
  • Tablets, capsules, suppositories
Paraphernalia
Needle

How does it affect the body?
  • Euphoria and relief of pain
  • Addictive
  • Overdose signs: cold and clammy skin, sleepiness, lowered blood pressure and slow pulse rate, coma and possible death

Read more about Morphine

What is it?

Whoonga (also known as nyaope or wunga) is black tar heroin mixed with other substances that has allegedly come into widespread use in South Africa since 2009. Whoonga is said to be used as recreational drug. The ingredients comprising whoonga vary, some ingredients are a mixturel of anti-retroviral drugs, pool cleaner, milk powder, bicarbonate of soda and milk powder. Typically, whoonga has cannabis as a prominent component, but this is mixed with crystal meth, heroin and other drugs. Street portions contain high volumes of toxic bulk fillers and other cheap powders (for inflating the size of the portion).


Street Names

Nyaope or Wunga


How it is Taken

The drug is usually smoked with cannabis in the form of a joint, but methods of preparation for injection do exist


Paraphernalia
Bongs
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • Agonizing stomach cramps
  • Back ache
  • Sweating, chills
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Nausea and diarrhea

Read more about Nyaope

What is it?

Non-synthetic narcotic extracted from the poppy plant, made into a liquid, powder or solid. Opium poppy is a key source for many narcotics.


Street Names

Aunti, Aunti Emma, Big O, Black pill, Chandu, Chinese Molasses, Dopium, Dream Gun, Fi-do-nie, Gee, Guma, Midnight Oil, Zero


How it is Taken
  • Can be smoked or injected intravenously
  • Taken in pill form
  • Used in combination with other drugs, such as marijuana and/or methamphetamine
Paraphernalia
Needle
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • Euphoric rush, relaxation and relief of physical pain
  • Slow breathing, seizures, loss of consciousness
  • Addictive
  • Coma or death

Read more about Opium

What is it?

Synthetically produced hallucinogen


Street Names

Angel Dust, Boat, Crystal, Embalming Fluid, Hog, Ozone, Rocket Fuel, Shermans, Supergrass, Tic Tac, Wack, Zoom


How it is Taken
  • Tablets, capsules are swallowed
  • In powder form, snorted
  • Leafy material sprayed or dipped in liquid and smokedÂ
Paraphernalia
Bongs
Pipes
Rolling Paper

How does it affect the body?
  • Dissociative drug, induces distortion of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment
  • Disorientation, delirium
  • Sedation, immobility, amnesia
  • Numbness, slurred speech, loss of coordination
  • Feeling of strength, power, and invulnerability
  • Increased blood pressure, rapid and shallow breathing, elevated heart rate and temperature
  • Addictive

Read more about PCP

What is it?

Methylphenidate, sold under the trade name Ritalin among others, is a stimulant medication and is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy.


Street Names

Kiddy coke (or kiddy cocaine), Poor man’s cocaine, Speed, Uppers, Vitamin R,R-ball, Skippy.


How it is Taken
  • Orally or snorted
Paraphernalia
Straw

How does it affect the body?
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • trouble sleeping
  • irritability
  • moodiness
  • nervousness
  • increased blood pressure
  • racing heartbeat, in rare cases

Read more about Ritalin

What is it?

Depressant and benzodiazepine with generic name Flunitrazepam. Essentially, it's a potent tranquiliser.


Street Names

Circles, Forget Me Pill, La Rocha, Lunch Money Drug, Mexican Valium, Pingus, R2, Roach 2, Ruffies, Rophies, Wolfies


How it is Taken
  • Oblong olive green tablet, swallowed, crushed and snorted
  • Can be dissolved in liquids
  • When placed in a light-colored drink, will dye it blue 
Paraphernalia
Straw

How does it affect the body?
  • Muscle relaxant, decreases anxiety
  • Drowsiness, amnesia, sleep
  • Slurred speech, loss of coordination
  • Impaired mental function, confusion
  • Addictive

Read more about Rohypnol

What is it?

Synthetically produced versions of testosterone, the male hormone used to promote muscle growth, enhance athletic performance, and improve physical appearance.


Street Names

Arnolds, Gear, Gym Candy, Juice, Pumpers, Roids, Stackers, Weight Gainers


How it is Taken
  • Injected intramuscularly
  • Gels, creams, transdermal patches
  • Tablets, sublingual-tablets and capsules
Paraphernalia
Needle

How does it affect the body?
  • Many effects depending on age, sex, the type, length of time used
  • In males: stunts growth, acne, shrinks testicles, enlarges breasts
  • In females: deepens voice, increases facial and body hair, acne, menstrual irregularities
  • Dramatic mood swings, impaired judgment, increased levels of aggression and hostility
  • Increased risk of heart disease, liver damage
  • Addiction

Read more about Steroids

What is it?

Mandrax is an old school drug which has been abused in South Africa from the seventies. The active ingredient in Mandrax is Metaqualone. Mandrax was developed and manufactured in the sixties to treat sleeping disorders, anxiety and hypertension


Street Names

White Pipe, Button, MX, Gholfsticks, Doodies, Lizards, Press outs, Flowers


How it is Taken

The Mandrax tablet is usually crushed and mixed with Dagga and is then smoked in a Dagga pipe or better known as “Bottle neck”. This is also known as the so-called “White pipe”.


Paraphernalia
Pipes

How does it affect the body?
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • fatigue
  • itching
  • rashes
  • sweating
  • drastic weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • tingling sensation in arms and legs
  • seizures
  • reduced heart rate
  • slowed breathing (respiration).

Read more about Mandrax

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Additional Reading

This comprehensive guide provides important information about the harms and consequences of drug use by describing a drug’s effects on the body and mind, overdose potential, origin, legal status, and other key facts.