The prevalence of cannabis use in Kenya has doubled in the last five years, a report by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) shows.
The report was done following a survey, that NACADA conducts every five years. The survey was done on 3,314 people, aged between 15 and 35 years.
According to the report, alcohol remains the most abused substance in Kenya. Additionally, youths aged between 25 and 35 years are the most vulnerable.
“Results showed that the prevalence of cannabis use almost doubled over the last five years. The growing demand for cannabis especially among the youth could be attributed to the low perception of harm due to myths, misinformation, and misconceptions;”
“The survey established that alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance of abuse in Kenya with findings pointing towards increasing demand for cheaper and readily available alcoholic products, especially chang’aa, traditional brews, and potable spirits;”
Through the survey, the drug authority established that children below 18 years were abusing drugs. This is despite the well-documented negative implications and consequences of early initiation.
NACADA also discovered the challenge of technology in their regulation duties, through the online sale of drugs and substances.
“There was evidence of the online sale of drugs and substances of abuse thereby posing serious public health safety concerns as well as regulatory challenges that include access to underage children. This may be further complicated by the penetration of mobile transfer services in Kenya and the expansion of internet access services.”
Although NACADA has been vocal in its war against drug abuse in the country, the rise of substance use disorders might pose a challenge in the milestones made so far.
The Authority also finds that drug users have a high risk of developing depressive disorders, making it hard for mental health professionals to solve underlying issues.
“The general trend shows that the overall prevalence of drugs and substance use was on a slow downward trend, the high burden of SUDs presents the greatest challenge to the next phase of the campaign;”
As a result, NACADA recommends county and government collaborations in the fight against drug abuse as well as leverage online platforms for messaging to reach the youth.
The authority has also suggested partnership programs with ministries of health, education, Sports and Youth Affairs, and other government agencies to fight against drug abuse.