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Contain the rising levels of alcoholism

By The Standard | Published Sun, July 2nd 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 1st 2017 at 23:52 GMT +3

Authorities have not done enough to help contain the hopeless case of alcoholism in Kiambu County if results of a baseline survey on drug abuse are anything to go by. The county still has the highest levels of alcoholism in the country.

This should serve as a warning about how poorly designed interventions can ultimately be expensive in the long run, especially when they are ineffective. A programme to rid the county of illicit alcohol and second generation brews was launched with great fanfare in 2015, but there is no indication that the level of alcohol abuse has declined.

A survey conducted by the county government in collaboration with the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) on alcoholism indicates that 15 per cent of residents of Kiambu County aged 15 to 65 years are dependent on alcohol, tobacco and bhang. The survey shows that alcoholism and drug abuse are still rampant and are on the rise.

The Kiambu study may look parochially unrepresentative of the entire country until one extrapolates the reasons for the rising rate of abuse — from youth unemployment, social disaffection, marginalisation, and diminishing business opportunities owing to lack of capital. These effects will become more manifest in other counties as these regions begin to rely less on traditional means of survival, more particularly subsistence agriculture.

Therefore, we must develop sustainable interventions that are not knee-jerk reactions to the problem of drug abuse. These remedial measures can be replicated in other areas before alcohol and drug abuse gets out of hand.

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