International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse. And each year, individuals, entire communities, and various organizations all over the world join in on this global observance, to raise awareness of the problem that illicit drugs represent for society. 

Substance Abuse is increasing in Kenya, especially among the youth. Current statistics indicate that more than half of drug users are aged 10-19 years. Most studies done in the country indicate that the commonly used drugs are nicotine, alcohol and cannabis. Findings showed that 9.7% of respondents aged 15 – 24 years were currently using at least one substance of abuse. The study showed that alcohol contributes the highest burden of substance use disorders (SUDs) in Kenya. According to the data, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among citizens aged 15-65 years stood at 10.4% in 2017. 

Due to the strategic location of Kenya in the East African region and Nairobi being an economic hub in the region, there has been an upsurge of international narcotic drug trafficking leading to increased injecting drug users (IDU). Kenya is becoming a major destination in itself for heroin, with addiction rising as tones of powder pass through East Africa. These days a hit costs as little as 120 shillings (USD$1.10/0.90 euros), creating a devastating path to dependence for poor, troubled Kenyans. In 2018, the Ministry of Health estimated 27,000 people were injecting or smoking heroin in a survey of one-third of Kenya’s counties. Around 1 percent of teenagers aged 14-18 years had admitted using the highly addictive drug. Victor Okioma, the CEO of NACADA (The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse) said. “Heroin is being consumed even in primary schools,”. 

Thankfully, the seizure of heroin and morphine have increased tenfold in Africa between 2008 and 2018 and the majority were made in East Africa, according to the UNODC. Therefore, response by national security has been swift. We can help our local authorities by immediately reporting any suspicious behavior near us indicating drug trafficking. 

There are several rehabilitation centers and free drug abuse clinics in Kenya. Their number increases every day, making treatment for drug addiction more and more accessible to everyone. 

Rehabilitative treatment is divided into: medical detoxification, management of intoxication and overdose, maintenance treatment, management of co-morbid medical and psychiatric disorders, relapse prevention and psychosocial interventions. 


Do your part and combat misinformation by sharing the real facts on drugs — from health risks and solutions to tackle the world drug problem, to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care. World Drug Day is a day to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts, and to continue tapping into a shared spirit of solidarity. Together, we can tackle the world drug problem! 

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