The dangers of the most common street drugs

A lot of young people find themselves experimenting with drugs without understanding what type of drug they’re taking and what to expect when using it. Drugs give you a short-term feeling of being high, but this doesn’t last long. When the high fades away and you eventually crash, you may find yourself wanting more of the drug to experience that high feeling again. This is part of what leads to drug dependency. Every drug comes with its own set of risks or dangers, which is why it’s important to understand the risk before getting involved. Here are some risks of common street drugs.


Marijuana, also known as dagga/weed/pot, usually refers to the dried flowers of the Cannabis plant. While some people use marijuana recreationally, it can have harmful effects- especially if you’re young and your body is still developing. Smoking marijuana can become a habit over time. Other side-effects of marijuana use include:

Problems with memory and concentration.

Slow reaction time.

Problems with balance and coordination.

Respiratory problems.

Worsening of underlying mental health conditions (such as mood disorders and schizophrenia).


Cocaine, also known as coke or snow, is a highly addictive drug that ups your levels of alertness, attention, and energy. It usually comes in the form of white powder or a solid rock (known as crack). Some side effects of using cocaine include:

Loss of appetite.

Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature.

Dilated pupils.

Disturbed sleep patterns.


Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behaviour.

Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability.

Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine, meth, or tik is an extremely addictive drug that can produce intense euphoria (excessive excitement), decreased appetite, and increased energy and attention. It’s a white, odourless crystal powder that’s usually smoked through a globe, snorted or injected. Some side effects of using crystal meth include:

Anxiety and insomnia.

Mood disturbances.


Violent behaviours.

Cognitive deficits.

Memory loss.


Paranoia and Hallucinations.


 Nyaope, or Whoonga is a very addictive street drug, made by mixing a number of potent and highly dangerous substances. The mixture can include rat poison, heroin, soap powder or detergents, crushed glass, methamphetamines and anti-retroviral drugs.This drug creates a rush, as well as the feeling of time being slowed down. Side effects of nyaope include:

A dry mouth or warm and flushed skin.

Arms and legs that feel heavy.

Upset stomach and vomiting.

Itching and a fuzzy brain.

Switching in and out of drowsiness.

Collapsed veins.


Heart and skin infections.


There are many health risks and dangers involved when using drugs, some short-term and some long-term. It’s important to be able to identify the different types of drugs at parties or gatherings so that you can avoid being pressured into trying them. If you or someone you know is addicted to a drug, you can reach out to these organisations:

The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA). You can visit the SANCA website, call them on 011 892 3829 or send them a WhatsApp on 076 535 1701.

Narcotics Anonymous. You can visit the Narcotics Anonymous website, or call them on 0861 00 6962.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).