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12,000 addicted to heroin, says study

Monday January 12 2009

By MIKE MWANIKI

A senior doctor on Monday sounded an alert over the high alcohol and drug abuse, especially by the youth.

The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse in Kenya (Nacada) board chairman, Dr Frank Njenga, said a recent survey showed that more than 12,000 people were heroin addicts in Nairobi and Coast provinces.

At the same time, about 40 per cent of Kenyans aged between 15 and 65 have used one type of alcoholic beverage or another and at least 13 per cent of people from all provinces (except those from North Eastern) consume alcohol on a regular basis.

Most abused

Speaking during the opening of a six-week training workshop held at the Kenya Institute of Administration, Dr Njenga said the study showed that 77 per cent of out-of-school and 28 per cent of in-school youths regularly abused alcohol.

“The same study also established that alcohol, tobacco and bhang were the most abused substances by people aged 15 to 65 years followed by cocaine, heroin and hashish,” Dr Njenga added.

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Most of the 65 participants attending the six-week course are retired nurses and clinical officers drawn from rehabilitation centres countrywide.

Last year, former Nacada chairman Joseph Kaguthi said the youth were bombarded with misleading adverts that hook them to drugs and alcohol.

And, according to a survey, 30.2 per cent of young people in Kenya have tasted alcohol.

By the age of 10, 14 per cent of respondents admitted to have started taking alcohol. About 40 per cent admitted to have taken beer for the first time.

Those who had opted for traditional brews like chang’aa, busaa or mnazi made up 20 per cent of the study group.

The reasons the youths gave for taking alcohol were also disturbing, with 52 per cent admitting to having taken alcohol for the first time out of curiosity. About 15 per cent of youths who took part in the study have used drugs.