For the past 4 years, a new drug epidemic has swept through parts of South Africa. This substance, dubbed whoonga had its origins in the city of Durban, a port town on the east coast of the impoverished country. While the exact numbers of those addicted to this drug are unknown, it has caused massive uproar throughout the Eastern part of the country. The substance has been reported to cost about three dollars a hit, but many citizens of South Africa live off of two dollars a day. This has caused the robbery rate to skyrocket.
Many cheap highs such as Whoonga, reveal themselves from time to time, but the ingredients of this particular drug are what make it such a danger. A combination of marijuana, laundry detergent, and rat poison is added to what is considered the main component: antiretroviral medication. Also known as ARV, this medicine is prescribed to people with HIV. With AIDS being such a pressing matter in Africa, this is truly alarming. Theft of ARVs has been rising steadily over the years, and it is apparent that this rate will continue to increase. People who need this medication to survive are being robbed of what is essentially their only tool for survival. Some addicts even attempt to intentionally receive HIV so they can get the substance for free.
This has cast a whole new light onto the AIDS endemic in Africa. People that desperately need help are simply not getting what they need as a result of these drug addicts pilfering the supply. Talk about a selfish disease! Even more disturbing is the fact that there has not even been any legitimate evidence pointing out that ARVS is the substance that gets the addicts loaded; regardless, the medication is still being stolen. Entire health clinics are being robbed daily, with no end in sight. Local police have stepped up to the plate and have begun arresting dealers, but they can only reach so far. Some citizens are assisting as well, albeit in a more violent matter. One dealersâ€™ house was burned down in an effort to stop him from selling.
Recovery centers have begun offering assistance to aid in treatment, allowing for a safe haven for those addicted, however only a few exist. It is questionable if these centers can make any real headway when it comes to dealing with this type of substance abuse.
Once Whoonga is dealt with, another, possibly more dangerous, drug will take itsâ€™ place. In 3rd world countries such as South Africa, recovery is not a top priority. Survival comes before everything else, and it dominates onesâ€™ life in these particular geographic areas. That is why at the end of every AA meeting, we take a moment of silence for both the alcoholic in and out of the rooms. For those who cannot receive recovery, such as many of these whoonga addicts, all we can do is pray that they will make the right decisions, as we cannot make these choices for them.