Written by Jaymo YoungGee
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A drug is chemical substance which when

taken changes the functioning of the body

and the mind.

What is drug use?

Using a drug for its intended purpose, eg use

of anti-malarial tablets to treat malaria,

panadol to relieve pain etc.

What is drug abuse?

Drug abuse is the improper use of drugs, e.g.

taking piriton to sleep instead of using it to

treat allergy, sniffing glue instead of using it

as an adhesive.

Drugs Abused in Kenya

1. Illicit (illegal) for example Heroine, Cocaine,

Chang’aa, Bhang, Kuber, Mandrax,

2. Licit (legal) drugs for example Alcohol (Beer,

Wines & Spirits) Tobacco, Miraa.

Drugs and substances abused in

Kenya include:

1. Alcohol

2. Tobacco

3. Miraa/ khat

4. Marijuana

5. Inhalants and Solvents

6. Heroin

7. Cocaine

8. Prescription Drugs – including sex

enhancement drugs

Other drugs abused in Kenya


1. Anabolic Steroids

2. Contraceptives

Causes of Drug Abuse in


1. Peer influence

2. Low self-esteem

3. Media influence (TV, magazines, internet)

4. Rebellion against parents, teachers, religion


5. Curiosity

6. Lack of knowledge of drugs

7. Poor role models .

8. Frustrations from home, school, body changes


9. Inability to achieve goals set thus feeling like

a failure

10. False ideas and perceptions. e.g. bhang

enhances academic performance ..

Effects of Drug Abuse in


1. Poor memory

2. Reduced reasoning capacity

3. Truancy and poor performance in school,

sports and other activities.

4. Poor concentration

5. Dropping out of school.

6. Suspension and expulsion from schools .

7. Risky sexual behavior leading to early

pregnancy & HIV/AIDS

8. Crimes like theft,violence,rape,incest,bestiality

(sex with animals) leading to legal

implications .

9. Poor health

10. Personal neglect

11. Withdrawal and isolation from society

12. Being shunned by the society .

13. Personal guilt

14. Poor relations with parents, teachers, siblings

and peers .

15. Physical and psychological addiction .

16. Overdose of drugs can lead to DEATH.

Preventive Strategies to

Drugs and Substance Abuse

in Kenya

1. Involve yourself in pleasurable activities like

games, drama, clubs and societies etc

2. Develop a good reading culture .

3. Apply critical thinking e.g. asking

yourself,why am I doing this?

4. What for? What are the consequences of my


5. Develop mechanisms for dealing with

difficulties, issues .

6. Choose friends wisely .

7. Develop your personal potential such as


8. Appreciate, love and accept yourself as you

are .

9. Identify and pursue your purpose in life .

10. Self awareness: identify your capabilities,

strength, limitations, weaknesses and

appreciate them .

11. Be aware of your physical, mental and

emotional changes taking place during

adolescence and learn to cope.

Drug Addiction in Kenya

Addiction is the continued use of a mood

altering substance or behavior despite adverse

dependency consequences, or a neurological

impairment leading to such behaviors.

Addictions can include, but are not limited to,

alcohol abuse, drug abuse, exercise abuse,

pornography and gambling. Classic hallmarks

of addiction include: impaired control over

substances/behavior, preoccupation with

substance/behavior, continued use despite

consequences, and denial.

How does addiction start?

People try drugs or other potentially addictive

behavior because they are seeking some sort

of reward or benefit. Those who take drugs,

for instance, do so because of the physical

effects they hope to experience. Drugs have a

marked effect on the body and mind. If there

were no effect, people would be unlikely to

repeat the experience. No one sets out just to

become addicted.

Who’s at risk of addiction?

What makes some people more susceptible to

becoming dependent or addicted is perhaps a

genetic predisposition. This theory, with some

evidence to support it, makes sense especially

since addiction crosses social divides.

However, this is still debatable.

There are also cultural and social factors that

put people at greater risk. For instance, you’re

less likely to become alcohol-dependent

growing up in a country where alcohol

consumption is unacceptable than where it’s a

normal part of everyday life. Growing up in a

family where there’s alcohol or drug abuse

increases the risk. This is also the case for

people who suffer childhood trauma, abuse

and neglect.

Poverty, a lack of education and

unemployment can also increase the risks. If

your environment is stressful and you feel

unable to change it, you may turn to

substances for relief. Significant life events

may contribute. If your inner world is in

turmoil, you may turn to substances as

medication to feel better.

People who don’t receive adequate nurture as

children or who are more emotionally sensitive

may be more susceptible. These factors won’t

always lead to substance misuse or

dependency or any other addictive behavior,

but they can increase vulnerability.

Drug Addiction Treatment in


Drug addiction is a complex disease. It is a

chronic, relapsing brain disease and involves a

combination of ecological, physiological and

historical factors. It is not voluntary behavior

and is often a fatal illness.

Addiction treatment and rehabilitation in

Kenya is largely a private sector and NGO

affair dating back to 1978. Treatment and

rehabilitation centers are few, operate in a

policy vacuum and are expensive for the

majority of Kenyans. The development of the

National Standards by NACADA and

stakeholders, training of professionals on

treatment and counseling and developing the

credentialing system for addiction

professionals are milestones in treatment and


Treatment services and opportunities may

include detoxification, substitution or

maintenance therapy and/or psychosocial

therapies and counseling.


1. No single treatment is appropriate for all


2. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs

of the individual, not just his/her drug use

3. Treatment must address medical,

psychological, social, vocational, and legal


The Duration of Treatment

Depends on patient problems/needs. Less

than 90 days is of limited/no effectiveness for

residential/outpatient setting. Mostly longer

treatment is often indicated.

Medical Detoxification

Detoxification safely manages the physical

symptoms of withdrawal and any symptoms of

psychiatric and emotional disorders.  It is only

the first stage of addiction treatment. Alone, it

does little to change long-term drug use. The

Focus on stabilization and takes a couple of

days, usually 3 to 10


1. Refers to the process by which a person

presenting with a substance related problem

achieves an optimal state of health

psychological functioning and social well

being devoid of substance abuse.

2. The process may also be rehabilitation

depending on clients needs.

3. Typically follows detoxification and, if

required, other medical and psychiatric

treatment occurs.

4. It encompasses a variety of approaches which

may include psycho education ,group therapy,

family therapy, specific behavior therapies to

prevent relapse, involvement with a self-help

group, residence in a therapeutic community

or halfway house, vocational and survival

skills training. There is an expectation of

social reintegration into the wider community.

5. The approaches used often depend on the

model used.

Medications for drug addiction in Kenya

1. Buprenorphine

2. Methadone

3. Naltrexone

4. Antabuse/ disulfiram

5. Nicotine Replacement

6. Patches

7. Gum


1. A broad range of community-based service

supports designed to maintain benefits when

structured treatment has been completed.

2. It may involve a continuation of individual or

group counseling and other supports, but

usually at a lower intensity and often by other


3. Self-help groups such as Alcoholics

Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are

important providers of aftercare services

Writtent by Jaymo YoungGee

About the author

Jaymo YoungGee


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