‘Bluetooth High’ – the new addition to the drug scourge

31/01/2017. Nyaope edicts inject themselves with nyaope using syringes and after he pull back his blood to share his high to the friend. Picture:Bongani Shilubane

Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 03 February 2017| 05 Jumadul ula 1438

Pretoria – The dangerously fast spread of Bluetooth – as the trend of sharing blood between nyaope users is called – was not entirely new, but it heralded a health crisis that could tip the scales in favour of death, public health experts said on Wednesday.

The trend brings increased chances of HIV, hepatitis and other blood diseases.

“It’s the same as fashion trends, one can get over a specific item as soon as the other item is introduced,” the city’s Youth Against Drug Abuse (Yada) chairperson Wim Fourie said.

The trend had come to their attention when nyaope addicts changed to injecting their drugs with syringes, instead of smoking them.

Yada had been dealing with various addicts hooked on different drugs for a while, but the major problem was that they had no idea of the composition of their drugs, he said.

The trend was spreading far and wide within the city’s townships – and in the past month users had been seen sharing blood-filled syringes in Mabopane, Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa.

This week a couple of young men in Mabopane demonstrated the practice to a Pretoria News team, explaining that they kept the blood-sharing between two druggies to avoid diseases and infections.

The one man, who asked not to be named, tied his wrist up with a string and mixed nyaope with water, drew it into the syringe them injected it into his hand.

Within a few seconds of injecting himself he withdrew the fluids, which rushed back into the syringe with blood, and he passed it to his partner, who had already tied his upper arm with a string in preparation for the drug sharing.

The second man shot the mixture into his upper arm while the other went into a drug-induced daze.

They insisted that the first man’s high would also be felt by the second drug user, and said it was all a game of compromise meant to share the euphoria when they did not have enough money for two packets of nyaope.

But the risks to their health were detrimental, University of Pretoria’s head of department of family medicine, Professor Jannie Hugo, said.

“Injecting heroin and nyaope is very dangerous on its own, so the trend where people share needles and blood is very risky and scary,” he said.

It came with high risks of HIV and Hepatitis C, which were already on the rise among drug users, he said.

The city had a very high number of people who injected drugs, pushing the prevalence of HIV to 40% and Hepatitis C to 80%. “This can only make it worse,” he said.

He warned of a public health emergency and said the best health care response to the Bluetooth trend was to do harm reduction.

“Harm reduction would mean helping people to practise safe injection methods and to make sure that they did not share needles and syringes.”

“This is done through a needle and syringe exchange programme where users are provided with clean needles, syringes and clean sterile water to mix the drugs,” he said.

The other response would be to provide long term opioid substitution therapy as part of care and rehabilitation.
“International research evidence is clear that with these two strategies, the problem can be addressed and turned around,” he said.

The trend and images of the boys shooting blood up and into their bodies was met with shock and horror among communities, who said drug use was being taken to another level.

Social media users questioned the authorities and their role in alleviating the drug abuse problem.

The police said they would investigate the trend and also research the laws of prosecution which could be applied.

Source – IOL