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Concern as drug dealers move online

The National Agency for Campaigns against Drugs Abuse (NACADA) is grappling with innovative drug peddlers who’ve turned to online marketing of drugs to evade arrests during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peddlers are now using social media platforms even as the pandemic slowed down Nacada operations to curb drugs and substance abuse.

Nacada says some drug and substance users have retreated back to their homes, where they have been using drugs in the presence of their children.

It is a new trend that has sent Nacada to the drawing board to find mechanisms of recovering the lost gains.

The agency’s board chair Prof. Mabel Imbuga on Saturday said some people have been consuming alcohol even past curfew hours, in some bars, in total disregard of COVID-19 protocols.

“To address these COVID-19 related challenges, the authority is working with all key players including the Ministry of Interior and other security and law enforcement agencies to address related offenses,” Imbunga said.

She was speaking at an event organised by Nacada to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

This year’s theme is ‘Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives’- which highlights the need for evidence-based approaches to equip the public with tools to inform choices and effective services.

The agency has achieved much in reducing the demand for drugs and substances through the positive parenting programme, the chairperson said.

The programme targets parents and empowers them with knowledge on drugs and how to help an affected family member.

“The life skills programme which has been piloted in over 84 primary schools has empowered young pupils with knowledge on alcohol and drugs and also elicited good debate on drug use amongst pupils and teachers,” Prof. Imbuga said.

NACADA has helped 10 counties to set up treatment and rehabilitation centres.

The counties include Bomet, Kisii, Kwale, Mombasa and Nyeri. Others are Kisumu, Kakamega, Taita Taveta, Nakuru and Lamu.

Prof. Imbuga said that the rehab centres have been critical in enhancing uptake of treatment services at the local level.

“The regular training of addiction professionals including their certification has ensured that the country has a pool of resource persons to provide evidence-based interventions to persons with substance use disorders,” Prof. Imbuga said.

NACADA Chief Executive Officer Victor Okioma said the authority was adopting a set of new standards.

They include the introduction and implementation of a scientific approach to research in the war against the menace.

Okioma said the development of this document is timely to guide the implementation of prevention programs within families, schools, workplaces, media, and our communities.

He said one of the greatest milestones that Nacada has achieved is the development of the National Standards on Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention.

“The standards aim to improve the delivery of programs, interventions, and policies in Kenya to produce positive outcomes for the targeted populations. It accentuates our commitment to Evidence-Based Interventions (EBIs) combating alcohol and drug abuse challenges in Kenya,” Mr. Okioma said.

Recent surveys by Nacada have shown that Miraa (khat), tobacco, alcohol, bhang, and glue are the most abused drugs and substances in the country.