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Drug and substance abuse

Monday, August 12, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY AGATHA NGOTHO

  Drug and substance abuse is not only a Kenyan problem but a global problem which is affecting mostly the youth both in school and out of school.

This problem impacts negatively on the academic, social, psychological, economical and physiological development among the abusers.

The menace has strangled the youthful population who are wasting away their prime lives instead of investing their energy and time to building the nation.

Drug trafficking has hit a crisis level in Kenya and this has seen the deportation of foreigners suspected to be involved in drug trafficking, with orders from the President.

According to National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), most Kenyans are primarily using intoxicating substances such as alcohol, tobacco, miraa/khat, marijuana/bhang, controlled substances, heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs including HIV and AIDS prescriptions.

A Nacada survey in 2012 showed that four million Kenyans use alcoholic drinks, 2.7 million take tobacco products while 1.6 million chew miraa or khat.

Effects of these drugs are devastating and most family units have been rendered dysfunctional, users have shunned their conjugal responsibilities to their spouses, occurrence of severe health conditions is escalating and there has been an increase is school drop outs.

In addition, mental retardation is being reported, declined productivity of those addicted to drugs is undeniable, irritability, anxiety, paranoia and violence could be partially traced to drug use and abuse and not to mention recent numerous cases of bestiality.
According to a rapid assessment of drug abuse by the government of Kenya in partnership with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), drug abuse has permeated all strata of Kenyan society, but the youth and young adults are the most affected groups.

The assessment stressed that the traditional cultural values and discipline of African society prescribed the circumstances under which drugs and intoxicants could be obtained, used and consumed. It pointed out that perhaps control at the family and community levels has seen fewer stigmas associated today with the use of intoxicants especially alcohol and tobacco.

The study recommended that demand reduction programmes should be established to enlighten and educate the public on the problem of drug abuse in addition to a policy on the treatment of addicts including establishment of non-stigmatising treatment and rehabilitation centres.

Nacada was established by an Act of Parliament on July 24, 2012. However, it goes back to 1996 when the Inter-Ministerial Drugs Coordinating Committee under Gazette Notice of July 12, 1996 was created.
Through a Gazette Notice of April 26, 2001, Nacada was institutionalised under the Ministry of Provincial Administration and Internal Security to initiate a public education campaign against drug abuse especially among the youth in schools and other learning institutions.

In May 2006 the President established a Nacada Advisory Board that now governs the authority’s operations.
The authority’s main focus is on demand reduction, which involves providing preventive education, public awareness, life skills, treatment, rehabilitation and psycho-social support to the general public. It also contributes towards supply suppression through policy formulation and capacity building.