NACADA Raises Alarm After Heroin Shortage Pushes Addicts to Cancer Drugs

Photo of NACADA Acting CEO John Muteti
Photo of NACADA Acting CEO John Muteti

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) Acting CEO John Muteti says that the shortage of heroin has pushed drug addicts to turn to medicine meant for cancer patients. 

This has worsened the cancer menace as cartels reportedly collude with the addicts to ease the availability of the drugs, hampering the well-being of cancer patients. 

Muteti, who divulged the alarming trend, which is fast-picking, spoke during an interview with a local media house on Wednesday morning. 

According to Muteti, drug addicts were devising their own ways to get intoxicated as they grappled with a shortage of illegal substances following measures set out to curb drug abuse. 

Different types of drugs.
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He lamented that other than cancer drugs, the addicts also use synthetic drugs - mixed chemical formulas from different medicines and substances - posing a danger to their lives and those around them. 

Synthetic drugs aim to mimic the effects of existing illicit drugs such as bhang, cocaine for ecstasy. 

This is one of the biggest challenges facing NACADA as it is not privy to the components of the substances as the prevalence of drugs worsens. 

“Synthetic drugs are more potent compared to natural; even though natural drugs have effects, synthetic drugs are more potent,” the CEO told Citizen TV.

The CEO noted that initially, Kenya used to be a transit for drugs, but now it has become a market for drug abuse.

According to the latest data released by NACADA, the coastal region was leading in polydrug use. Health experts say that mixing or taking one drug when under the influence of another drug is known as polydrug use. 

NACADA further defines polydrug use as the use of two or more drugs by an individual at the same time, usually to enhance the effects of another drug.

“Drug users mix drugs with the aim of becoming more high,” Muteti revealed. 

The CEO expressed his concerns about the youth being the highest polydrug users, citing that it is alarming since they are the future generation.

 In July, a video circulated on social media showing drug users exhibiting symptoms of drowsiness and confusion, displaying “zombie” like stances. The victims were believed to have used medicated drugs administered to cancer patients.

In response, Muteti explained that the substance has the ability to make users drowsy, confused, and displaying 'zombie-like' stances.

"The zombie-like symptoms among drug users can be attributed to either one or a combination of the following factors; high dosage of heroin and a combination of heroin with high dosage of prescription drugs especially Diazepam and Amitriptyline," Muteti stated.

In response to the menace, Kanduyi MP, John Makali, moved a motion regarding the expansion of drug and substance abuse rehabilitation centres.

The motion, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, note that drug and substance abuse has been increasing in Kenya, especially among the youth, with statistics indicating that more than half of drug users are aged between 10 and 19 years.

"Research released by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) in December 2022 placed the Western region as the leading region in alcohol and substance abuse at 23.8 per cent, followed by the Coast region at 13.9 per cent and the Central region at 11.9 per cent; recognizing that the high level of drug abuse in the Western region is attributable to illegal entry points from neighbouring countries and unlicensed establishments, especially in Bungoma and Busia counties with statistics indicating two out of every five establishments in Bungoma operate illegally.

"The motion urges the Government to institute an intensive programme for the dissemination of information on alcohol and substance abuse in line with the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010 and to increase the number of rehabilitation centers across the counties," Parliament stated. 

Photo of NACADA Acting CEO ,John Muteti
Photo of NACADA Acting CEO ,John Muteti
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