Drug abuse among learners rampant, says Nacada study
Despite concerted effects to eradicate drug abuse in schools, statistics by National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) continue to paint a gloomy trend.
Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo yesterday at the launch of Nacada’s African Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Nairobi, placed the average age of initiation to substance use at 11 years, meaning some students are already abusing drugs before they join secondary schools.
“My office was honoured to launch the report of the primary school survey mid year and the findings have generated a lot of public debate on the obvious danger posed to our children by alcohol and drug abuse,” said the CS.
Further, Matiang’i said a survey conducted three years ago showed that 23.4 per cent of high school students have used alcohol, 17 per cent (miraa), 16.1 per cent (prescription drugs) and 14.4 per cent (tobacco).
Another 7.5 per cent have used bhang, 1.2 per cent have used heroin while 1.1 per cent have used cocaine before.
“(From the findings) It was clear that by the time children are joining secondary schools some are already initiated into drug abuse,” the CS said.
A national survey done in June by the agency shows that the lowest age of engaging in drug abuse is four years.
In workplaces, Matiang’i revealed that two surveys conducted by Nacada established alcohol was the most abused drugs at 33.3 per cent for the public sector and 35.4 per cent for private sector, followed by tobacco at 8.5 per cent and 13.8 per cent for public and private sectors, respectively.
According to a national survey conducted by Nacada in 2017, alcohol remains the most abused drug with 12.2 per cent of persons aged 15–65 being active users.
Alcohol also contributes to the highest burden of substance use disorders with 10.4 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 65 years being addicted to it, while tobacco accounts for 8.3 per cent, miraa 4.1 percent and cannabis one per cent.
As a remedy, Matiang’i said his ministry had adopted a multi-pronged approach that addresses demand and supply of drugs.
The approach includes public education and advocacy targeting schools, families, workplaces and communities.
Nacada is also providing standards for treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders and conducting regular inspection to confirm compliance. Regular surveys will also be used to inform policies.
Mating’i said government agencies will coordinate regular crackdowns on illicit brews and drugs.
“What is happening in Mombasa to flush out people (who are) involved in drugs will be replicated across the country. Crime, terror and drugs are intertwined and if we want to address crime and terrorism in the country, we must deal with the issue of drugs and alcoholism,” Musiambo said.