• Official says they should be offered job opportunities and supported as opposed to being referred to as criminals.
• Three-year reformed addict says he used heroin for 12 years and injections for 15 years but recovered after being counselled and treated by Reachout Centre.
Mombasa residents have been urged to accept reformed drug addicts to help them recover and be integrated in society.
Reachout Centre Trust director Taib Abdulrahman said society needs to understand the crisis of drugs and take the responsibility of caring for the victims
Speaking during the International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking, Abdulrahman said statistics from the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse shows there are 100,000 people using drugs at the Coast.
Mombasa has 8,000 to 10,000 drug users.
“We have been able to reach 5,000 drug users of whom 3,500 use injections which is a big challenge to us because there is a high possibility of the spread of diseases," he said.
The region gives methadone treatment to the patients through Medically Assessed Therapy where 1,000 people have been enrolled.
Abdulrahman said with the support of the county government, they are putting up more methadone clinics in Changamwe, Likoni and Shanzu to decongest Freretown clinic and enrol more patients.
The new clinics will also help patients get the treatment without visiting the neighbouring clinic which has been a challenge.
He said this year, they have recorded the lowest age group of 50-100 drug users between 15 and 18.
“Before we used to have people of age bracket of 25-35 years,” he said.
Medically Assessed Therapy director Abdul Nour said the community, national and county governments need to help the high numbers of reformed addicts who have no jobs and are fighting stigma.
“We have so many reformed addicts who have not been accepted by the community in the right way, the few who have been accepted suffer discrimination because the community refers to them as criminals and a threat to them,” Nour said.
Abdulrahman said that they are working with the community and doing sensitisation to curb the denial and rejection of the reformed addicts.
Makema Mbwana, a three-year reformed addict and MAT peer educator said he used heroin for 12 years and injections for 15 years but recovered after being counselled and treated by Reachout Centre.
The father of three said he was in a group of 100 people but only nine are alive. The rest died after contracting diseases such as HIV from sharing needles.
He urged the community and government to support them for full recovery by accepting and providing them with jobs.
Edited by R.Wamochie