• Counties urged to start prevention programmes to address alcohol and drug abuse.
• CS says addiction is a complex mental disease and not lack of moral principles or strong willpower.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has called on county governments to initiate prevention programmes to address the challenge of alcohol and drug abuse.
Matiang’i said county governments were vested with liquor licensing and control of drugs and urged them to cooperate with national government officials in enhancing compliance with relevant laws at the county level.
The CS spoke on Tuesday when he launched the African Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
The journal is a publication of the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse and will be a platform to exchange information on alcohol and drug abuse.
It also serves as an interaction medium for students, scholars and scientists on emerging trends as well as new knowledge on drug abuse and addiction.
“It is no secret that alcohol and drug abuse are major challenges in the country having permeated all spheres of society including young children whose minds are yet to fully develop,” Matiang’i said.
A 2017 Nacada national survey showed that alcohol is the most abused substance with 12.2 per cent of people aged 15-65 being active users.
Alcohol use also contributes to the highest-burden of substance use disorders with 10.4 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 65 years being addicted.
Other substances of abuse include tobacco at 8.3 per cent, miraa at 4.1 per cent and cannabis at one per cent.
“Of great concern was the indication that the average lowest age of onset to drugs and substance abuse is four years and the median age of initiation is 11 years. The findings have so far generated a lot of public debate on the obvious danger posed to our children by alcohol and drug abuse,” Matiang’i said.
This is worsened by a lack of information and knowledge of alcohol and drug abuse in communities. The CS also noted that there are several myths, stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding drug abuse and addiction, especially in the African setting.
“As is common, many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Some mistakenly think that those addicted lack moral principles or strong willpower to stop the vicious cycle of drug use. But in reality, we know that drug addiction is a complex mental disease and quitting is usually not as easy.”
He reiterated that improvement in prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and control heavily relies on relevant and reliable data on alcohol and drug abuse.
There is, therefore, a need for continued studies on the science of addiction and treatment as well as evidence-based prevention programmes, he added.
The CS further urged researchers to conduct studies on the various aspects of drug abuse and addiction to document evidence-based interventions.
He called on scholars to engage in constructive debates on alcohol and drug abuse issues through the AJADA to sharpen one another’s knowledge and skills.
Edited by R.Wamochie