Address root cause of drugs menace

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 06:30 | By
Nacada logo. PHOTO/Nacada

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) has painted a worrying picture of drug use and abuse problem that confronts the country today.

More than that, however, it has also raised the important question of what interventions ought to be taken to ensure the drugs menace is checked before it grows into an epidemic.

Experts have in the past warned against the dangers posed by drug abuse to the productive demographics of the economy and how it has adversely affected the wellbeing of individuals and their families.

Now, Kenya is staring at the real possibility of this problem growing even bigger unless something is done to stop the sure but steady slide.

Counties like Nairobi and Kiambu, though have not succeeded as much as they should, have taken the right early steps of mapping alcohol consumption and sale areas, particularly in residential areas and nears schools.

The proliferation of the informal alcohol businesses, much as it offers jobs and incomes, also poses the threat of exposing children to early alcohol consumption. This will, in turn, reduce the gains Kenya has made since it came up with strict alcohol sale and consumption rules that, for instance, made it illegal for children to be in entertainment spots after 7pm.

There is need for liquour licensing boards across the country to keep a close eye of the operations of the informal liquour businesses, which grew exponentially during the Covid-19 restrictions on social gatherings.

Secondly, health experts should be challenged to come up with interventions that will address the growing drugs and alcohol consumption problem. First, it will be important to study the origins and causes of the new trend — one of which could actually be Covid-19 aftershocks — and find ways in which to intervene so as to ensure more Kenyans do not fall into the trap of mental illnesses.

Thirdly, authorities ought to come up with a strong public awareness campaign on the health, social and economic risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse with the ultimate aim of triggering behaviour change.

Finally, it should be painful — legally — for those found guilty of selling drugs, illicit alcohol and other substances prone to abuse.

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