Don’t arrest addicts, do rehabilitate them

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024 06:00 | By
Migori Illicit alcohol. PHOTO/KNA

Alcohol abuse has been on the rise, especially among young people, rendering it the greatest threat to the future of our country.

To deal with this menace, the government has adopted a number of measures to control production, sale and consumption of illicit brews. This is a step in the right direction.

However, there is need to change strategy in the fight against alcohol, drugs and substance abuse if the war is to be won.

Alcohol and drug addiction should not be wholly a law enforcement issue but also a public health matter.
The government should adopt and implement a public health-based approach that not only recognises abuse as a disease, but one that affords persons with substance use disorders with necessary treatment and care that they need.

Alcohol use disorder, for example, is a medical condition characterized by inability to stop or control alcohol use despite the adverse effects.

That is why alcoholics should be rehabilitated, not arrested.

Temporary measures like arrests and pouring of the liquor are just temporary measures that may not achieve much as the addicts still access the drinks from unscrupulous traders.

The abuse has been exacerbated by several factors including high unemployment levels and the fact that children are introduced to alcohol and drugs quite early.

Unscrupulous sellers and brewers continue to use the crudest methods to produce lethal brews and for that reason, this war must be sustained over a long period of time.

The fight should also target rogue police officers. Reports indicate the alcohol that has so far claimed 17 lives in Kirinyaga County was an exhibit.

The National Government Administration officers have actively been involved in the exercise and even as the war is sustained, there is need to establish more rehabilitation centres.

Here, the addicts can be taken through the healing process and ultimately given opportunities to acquire, for example, vocational training that can help them upon completion of the treatment process.

More guidance and counselling experts should also be involved, especially in learning institutions to teach students the harmful effects of the drugs.

More on Opinion