ONLY AFTER MONEY

Private drug rehab centres bogus, says Elungata

Private centres offer services at between Sh30,000 and Sh90,000 a month, while the government’s Miritini centre more affordable.

In Summary

• Coast regional coordinator John Elungata says the government has scaled up the Miritini Rehabilitation Centre at the Miritini National Youth Service camp.

• He says the new centre will offer comprehensive treatment and equip the reformed addicts with necessary skills through enrolment in technical institutions.

An area in Kongowea where drug addicts frequent at night to buy drugs
DRUG ABUSE An area in Kongowea where drug addicts frequent at night to buy drugs
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The government has discredited private drug rehabilitation centres at the Coast saying most of them are only after money and do not offer proper medication and services.

Coast regional coordinator John Elungata on Wednesday said the government has scaled up the establishment of the Miritini Rehabilitation Centre at the Miritini National Youth Service camp.

He said the new rehab will offer comprehensive treatment and equip reformed addicts with the necessary skills through enrolment in technical institutions.

“This will be doing proper rehabilitation, not giving people the very drugs you want them to stop using,” Elungata told the Star during an interview in his office.

Private rehabs offer services at between Sh30,000 and Sh90,000 a month, while the government’s Miritini Rehab Centre will be affordable. The possibility of free services is also being discussed.

Rehabilitation centres usually give the addicts the same drugs they are addicted to but in gradually reduced amounts to prevent them from suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

However, Elungata said most of the drugs are dependency ones and the methods used in the private centres make the addicts worse. “You are making life worse for that person.” 

He said methadone, used in most of the rehab centres, is a dependency drug and its use needs expertise. The drug, sold under the brand name Dolophine, among other names, is an opioid used for chronic pain management or treatment for heroin addiction or narcotic painkillers.

Detoxification using methadone can be accomplished in less than a month, or it may be done gradually over as long as six months.

“The government wants to do a comprehensive treatment at Miritini. We have already transferred the containers that were taking up a lot of space,” Elungata said.

The houses in the camp are also set to be repaired in preparation for commissioning. Rehabilitated addicts will be enrolled in different technical institutions to undertake courses of their choices. 

The government is working closely with the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse to ensure successful completion of the rehab.

Nacada director Farida Rashid yesterday told the Star a number of private centres have been closed at the Coast for noncompliance with standards.

“We’ve been going round inspecting the rehabs and those found to be wanting were closed. And the ones that were closed were many,” she said.

She is optimistic the Miritini centre will be a gamechanger in the war on drugs. “The rehab will help a lot. The maintenance will be better than what we’ve seen in the other rehabs,” Rashid said.

The war on drugs is already showing signs of success. The amount of drugs available is dwindling by the day.

And as part of efforts to tackle the problem, Rashid and Elungata said the youth must be empowered academically and professionally.

“Our youths need to get into learning institutions like polytechnics, colleges, Bandari Maritime Academy, and the Ronald Ngala Utalii College whose Phase 1 is near completion. There are more opportunities opening up. But where will we get them if they continue taking drugs?” he said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)