Employers can't fire drug-addicted staff, but they should aid in their rehabilitation

Experts aver that the government and other stakeholders must invest more in taming alcohol addiction and drug abuse, adding they should channel more resources into campaigns against drug abuse.

This includes establishment of more modern rehabilitation centres and adequate human resource, as well as the creation of strong laws to protect Kenyans against substance abuse.

The National Coordinator of the Institute for Social Accountability Wanjiru Gikonyo said this is critical because drug addiction has reduced output in many workplaces.
She added that many families and companies are struggling to contain family members or employees who are addicted to drugs.

“The problem is bigger than we think. It is becoming clear that every family today has someone who is experiencing drug addiction,” Wanjiru told The Nairobian. She called on the government to conduct research and public participation to find a lasting solution to drug abuse.

“We should also look at the socio-economic and health impacts of drug abuse on the country. It is clear that this problem requires much more attention so that we can save the current generations from the effects of alcohol addiction,” she said.

One challenge however has been a dearth of data.

“We need data so that we do what is right. We need the right information to have the right policies that can address alcohol addiction,” said Wanjiru. 

She, however, warned that the law bars employers from firing employees addicted to drugs. Instead, she called on employers to develop and implement mechanisms for counselling the afflicted as well as investing resources to help address addiction at the work place.

“The employers, the government and other stakeholders should support victims so that they can have a good life. They need rehabilitation as well as guidance and counselling,” Wanjiru said. The situation is worse since 82 per cent of Kenyans are unemployed or in informal employment.

“It looks like no one is bothered about those people who can only access unrefined alcoholic spirits. The government must do more to get them out of the gutter. We need to do more to save families as well,” she said.

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) Public Education and Advocacy Manager Susan Maua said that alcohol is a depressant, which has destroyed many lives in the country.

She advised young people experimenting with alcohol that treating alcoholism is an expensive undertaking and that they had better keep off before falling off the cliff.