Most Commonly Abused Drugs in Kenya - Report

  • File image of a man holding a glass of alcohol
    File image of a man holding a glass of alcohol
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  • The 2019-2022 Strategic Plan Report published by the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) revealed that at least 626,000 primary school children have indulged in alcohol.

    The situation of alcohol and drug abuse in primary schools in Kenya indicates an alarming trend given the young age of the students affected. 

    According to findings of a survey, 20.2% of the pupils have used at least one drug or substance of abuse; 10.4% have used prescription drugs; 7.2% of the pupils have ever used alcohol; while 6.0% have ever used tobacco. 

    Additionally, 3.7% have ever used khat/ miraa; 1.2% have ever used marijuana; 0.7% have ever used cocaine; and 0.5% have ever used heroin.

    Miraa traders at Kiengu miraa market in Igembe Central, Meru County on September 6, 2016.
    Miraa traders at Kiengu miraa market in Igembe Central, Meru County on September 6, 2016.
    Daily Nation

    As per the Ministry of Education data, 8.7 million primary school students had registered under the new school system by 2018.

    The menace has not spared secondary schools either with the report detailing worrying numbers.

    "The lifetime use of drugs among secondary school students is detailed as follows: 508,132 for alcohol use; 369,155 for khat/miraa 349,613 for prescription drugs 314,869 for tobacco; 162,863 for bhang/cannabis; 49,945 for inhalants e.g. glue and petrol; 26,058 for heroin; and 23,887 for cocaine," the report reads in part.

    Substance use Disorders (SUD’s) are a range of problems associated with substance use which may range from licit and illicit alcohol, hard drugs and misuse of prescribed medications, to substance dependence and addiction.

    The study demonstrated that alcohol continues to be the highest-burden of SUDs to Kenyans with 2,807,569 (10.4%) being diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorders. 

    Further, 1,835,718 have been diagnosed with Tobacco Use Disorders, while 836,872 were diagnosed with Khat/miraa Use Disorders and 215,967 being diagnosed with Marijuana use disorders.

    In a bid to curb the vice, NACADA issued a detailed guide dubbed Parent's Guide to Alcohol Abuse Prevention 2020, which highlights the various signs that could indicate that a child is engaged in drug abuse.

    "Unknown friends, secretive phone conversations, noticeable hostility and outbursts, constant line, stealing of small items, constant manipulation for money and unexplained disappearance of money," were listed as some of the social behavioral changes to look out for.

    NACADA further insisted on the importance of parents having an open conversation with their children on the dangers of drug abuse.

    Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at a school in Nyeri on October 28, 2020.
    Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at a school in Nyeri on October 28, 2020.
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