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Kenya seeks experts for drug problem

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Kenya needs more experts trained to deal with drug and substance abuse at the community levels, according to the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA).

The agency’s board chairman Dr Frank Njenga said on Monday that the infiltration would address the increasing demand for practical interventions to assist drug addicts across the country.

Dr Njenga made the remarks after opening a new Therapeutic Community (TC) training model aimed at treating and rehabilitating drug dependant people at the grassroots level. He pointed out that it was a government initiative.

"This is a completely new model for therapy. It is based on the concept of the ‘Therapeutic Community’ and we are training people from right across the country," he said, explaining that they had identified grassroots participation as the most effective way of dealing with the vice.

Drug abuse refers to the excessive use of alcohol and tobacco, consumption of illegal alcohol, bhang, heroin, cocaine and other hallucinogens.

Dr Njenga observed that this addiction was rampant within the society and placed a huge social, economic and emotional burden on everyone involved. He further explained that it impacted negatively on family finances, loss of opportunity and time, increased healthcare costs, insecurity and even death.

The doctor stated that the community approach was the most effective way of dealing with alcohol and drug abuse, and hoped that at the end of the day, grassroots participation would be the way forward.

Those participating in the just-launched TC training programme are drawn from all parts of the country and will be trained to become experts at community level by the end of the exercise.

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According to Dr Njenga, many Kenyans would then be able to access chemical dependence treatment and rehabilitation due to availability of professionals in the field.

He further emphasised that the programme would explore ways of assisting the youth who are the most affected by alcohol and substance abuse.

"Seventy percent of youth out of school are constantly abusing alcohol. Kids as young as ten years are beginning to use and abuse alcohol," he observed.

He stated the fact that the youth needed to be focused on more important issues like their education to avoid being caught up in drug addiction.

"The best way of dealing with this problem is to make sure that the youth do not start using drugs.  But you cannot ignore those people who are already afflicted by the problem," he advised.

According to the World Drugs Report 2008, opiates especially heroin are consumed by 38 percent of the population, cannabis is smoked by 36 percent while miraa chewing and cocaine by 11 percent and 10 percent respectively.

A mapping exercise conducted by UNODC in April 2007 revealed a total number of 12,201 heroin users in both Nairobi and Coast Provinces with Nairobi having 6,519 and the coast 5,682.

The exercise also mapped a total of 103 drug using sites in Nairobi and Coast provinces with 49 in Coast and 54 in Nairobi.
Dr Njenga pointed out the graveness of the alcohol and drug abuse situation in the country and further emphasised the need for urgent interventions.

"Candid interactions with drug users have revealed that most of them have lost hope in life and survive only from one dose to the other," he stated.

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He concluded by stating that the Therapeutic Community training was in response to the impassioned plea of persons afflicted by drug dependence and the society at large.


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