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Stakeholders call for different approach in handling people living with addiction

By David Macharia
Saturday, June 12th, 2021 13:34 | 2 mins read
NACADA officer, Rev Wangai Gachoka speaking in Nyahururu, Friday, during a symposium organized by St Martin of Nyahururu Catholic Diocese. (Photo by David Macharia)

Kenyans have been urged to stop using the word “addict” while referring to people who can’t live without consuming alcohol and drugs because it is stigmatizing them.

The North Eastern regional manager for NACADA Rev Wangai Gachoka suggested that these people should be referred to as ‘people living with addiction’.

Speaking in Nyahururu on Friday, during a one-day symposium organized by St Martin, a social Apostolate of the Catholic Diocese of Nyahururu, Rev Wangai said people addicted to alcohol and drugs will come out and seek medical attention if the society stopped stigmatizing them.

The theme of the symposium was “emerging trends in alcohol and drug abuse; challenges and opportunities” and brought together people and institutions that regularly come into contact with people addicted to alcohol and drugs.

They included police, prison, Ministry of Health (MOH), rehabilitation centres operators and also people who have recovered from addiction.

Call was made to the MOH to declare addiction a disease to allow those addicted to alcohol or drugs to be given attention like any other ailing people.

The meeting said this will enable the addicts to access services offered by health insurance bodies like the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

 The symposium heard that emotional stress, having responsibilities that one finds overwhelming and being under lots of pressure were among the major contributors to one indulging in drug and substance abuse as a way of seeking solace.

The meeting challenged institutions to adopt strong systems of counselling to help reduce drugs and substance abuse among Kenyans.

Rev Wangai said that psychosocial approaches form a significant part of management planning with a role in prevention, treatment, relapse prevention and long-term rehabilitation hence the need to institutionalize counselling.

He challenged the Teacher Service Commission to ensure every school has a teacher skilled in guidance and counseling to help address cases of stress among school going children.

George Maina, an officer with the Saint Martin noted the need for concerted efforts towards fighting addiction.

A prisons officer, David Muchia who has recovered from drug addiction noted that there was still hope for those addicted saying all they required was support.

David Macharia