Murang'a rehabilitates 50 alcohol, drug addicts

Illicit liquor and drugs returning despite countrywide crackdown that started two year ago but fizzled out

Rehabilitated addicts perform during their 'graduation' at Ihura Stadium in 2015
WE'RE CLEAN AND SOBER: Rehabilitated addicts perform during their 'graduation' at Ihura Stadium in 2015
Image: Alice Waithera

The Murang’a county government has sponsored the rehabilitation of 50 alcohol and drugs since 2015.

It plans to help many more as illicit liquor and drugs are returning, despite a countrywide crackdown that began two years ago. After some success, it fizzled out.

Community Services officer Stephen Kuria said on Tuesday that more youths will be rehabilitated in the county rehab centre that is being established.

The centre in Kambirwaa is almost completed and is only waiting required facilities, and furnishings,  he said.

Previously addicts were taken to a centre in Nakuru county for three months. They were identified with the help of community health workers and volunteers.

Kuria was speaking at Ihura stadium while registering the addicts. He said the initiative is part of the 2015 rehabilitation programme that treated 1,000 addicts at no cost.

The county initiated the programme following a countrywide crackdown on illicit second-generation liquor that killed some addicts and ruined lives. The lucky ones went through painful withdrawal.

A makeshift camp was established at the stadium where addicts were rehabilitated for three months. Then they enrolled in the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme in which they received short technical courses in local polytechnics.

Kuria said once rehabilitated, the 50 addicts will also receive technical training to help them become financially independent.

The new rehabilitation centre will charge affordable, subsidised fees. It will also receive patients from neighbouring counties.

AP Sergeant Moses Kimenchu, who recently received a Head of State Commendation for his efforts to fight alcoholism and drug abuse, said the illicit alcohol and drugs are slowly creeping back.

“It is unfortunate because many homes are breaking up due to alcoholism and that calls for more efforts to ensure the county does not slip back to where it was,” he said.

Kimenchu urged those struggling with alcoholism to understand that it is an illness and seek medical help to be able to continue with their lives.

He urged youths to mind the company they keep, their drinking buddies, noting that peer pressure is one cause of alcoholism.

The majority of the youths who registered for rehabilitation said their lives had been ruined and said hey wanted to change.

Peter Mwangi, a beautician, said at age 26, he was smoking bhang and taking kuber for years. Kuber, a stimulant, is a mixture of tobacco, coca leaves and marijuana. 

“Sometimes I'd leave my clients unattended when my cravings got too strong and I ended up losing them. I want to change and get my life organised before it is too late,” he said.

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