Today (Monday) marks the start of the Second National Conference on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as substance abuse takes a heavy toll on families and society as a whole.
It comes on the week the national budget figures for the next financial year are being unveiled and various ministries get to plan their programmes of action for the ensuing period. The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) website lists abused Substances to typically include, but are not restricted to: alcohol, tobacco, miraa, bhang, inhalants and solvents, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, and HIV and Aids medication.
Loud have been the lamentations of mothers where illicit brews have reduced husbands into zombies and even undermined the family unit as their men fail to even meet their conjugal obligations. Some of the adulterated substances they ingest cause blindness and death.
Truancy has been cited as a major setback to the goal of a literate nation so that the eventual graduates can participate in national development. However, instances of young learners taking up intoxicants and injectibles has seen this vulnerable group torch school facilities as the intoxication leads them to have diminished faculties.
Indeed, the recent reports and court action against young women in a coastal town over bestiality left many tongues wagging whether they performed the said acts while under the influence of some intoxicant.
As substance abuse became widespread, it was deemed a clear and present danger to the very pillars of a clean, healthy and literate society. The State was alarmed at the loss of lives, high cost of rehabilitation of addicts and diminished productivity and established Nacada in 2012.
Today’s congregation, and for the next three days, is yet another national conversation on this scourge against the people of Kenya, both young and old, so that several interventions can be forged to save a lost generation.
The government, civil society, faith-based groups, private sector representatives and development partners shall discuss how best to bolster the existing programme of “preventive education, public awareness, life skills, treatment, rehabilitation and psycho-social support to the general public.”