Kenya: Drug Consumption on the Rise, with Increasingly Young Victims

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

A study released on Monday by Nacada, the National Authority for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, reveals a growing prevalence of alcohol and drug use in Kenya, with the youth bearing the brunt of this concerning trend. Even more alarming is the exposure of children to illicit substances.

Alcohol and tobacco remain the most widely consumed drugs in Kenya, with a prevalence rate of 11.8% and 8.5% of the population, respectively, equating to more than 5.5 million consumers. The study highlights a rising demand for inexpensive and poor-quality products, including adulterated alcohol and traditional homemade brews.

Another distressing aspect is the increasingly young age at which individuals are starting to use these substances. Some children are initiating tobacco use as early as 6 years old, alcohol at 7 years old, and cannabis starting at 8 years old. Cannabis consumption has surged by 90% over the past five years. Other drugs being consumed in Kenya include khat, over-the-counter medications, cocaine, heroin, and even veterinary tranquilizers for those with limited means.

“These figures underscore the urgent need for more concerted efforts by authorities in addiction prevention and treatment,” comments Dr. Bill Sinkele, the founder of SAPTA, an NGO engaged in combating drug abuse. Dr. Sinkele points out significant gaps in the Kenyan system, such as the absence of treatment centers for underage drug users and a lack of prevention programs in schools.

The situation is indeed cause for deep concern, as the prevalence of substance abuse among Kenyan youth continues to rise, highlighting the imperative need for comprehensive strategies to combat drug addiction and protect the nation’s vulnerable young population.


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