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Drug Abuse in Kenya

Drug abuse is an intense desire to obtain increasing amounts of a particular substance or substances to the exclusion of all other activities.

Drug dependence is the body's physical need, or addiction, to a specific agent. Over the long term, this dependence results in physical harm, behaviour problems, and association with people who also abuse drugs. Stopping the use of the drug can result in a specific withdrawal syndrome.

Substances can be taken into the body in several ways:

  • Oral ingestion (swallowing)
  • Inhalation (breathing in) or smoking
  • Injection into the veins (shooting up)
  • Depositing onto the mucosa (moist skin) of the mouth or nose (snorting)

Alcohol is of course the most commonly used and widely abused drug in the world. Types of alcohol include beer, wine, and spirits.
The effects of alcohol are dependent on a variety of factors, including a person's size, weight, age, and sex, as well as the amount of food and alcohol consumed.

Short-term effects

  • dizziness
  • talkativeness
  • slurred speech
  • disturbed sleep
  • nausea and vomiting
  • aggressive acts- including domestic violence and child abuse
  • headache
  • thirst
  • fatigue.

Long-term effects

  • Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can lead to addiction (alcoholism). Sudden stopping of long term, heavy alcohol use is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms- such as severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions.
  • Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol, especially when combined with poor eating habits, can lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and liver.
  • Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may suffer from mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics.

An amphetamine, in tablet and pill form, is a stimulant to the central nervous system. They are inhaled, injected, or swallowed.

Short-term effects

  • increased talkativeness
  • increased aggressiveness
  • increased breathing rate
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • reduced appetite
  • dilated pupils
  • visual hallucinations
  • auditory hallucinations
  • fever and sweating
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • irregular heartbeat
  • tremors
  • loss of coordination
  • collapse

Long-term effects

  • Possible long-term effects include dependence on the drug. They are addictive.
  • Violence and aggression
  • Malnutrition due to poor appetite.


Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most powerfully addictive drugs available. Cocaine can be snorted into the nostrils or dissolved in water and injected or smoked.
Short-term effects

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • insomnia(inability to sleep)
  • loss of appetite
  • feelings of restlessness
  • irritability, and anxiety.
  • Cocaine's effects are short lived, and once the drug leaves the brain, the user experiences a "coke crash" that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.

Long-term effects

  • paranoia.
  • aggressive paranoid behavior in users
  • depression
  • prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose.


Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a white to dark brown powder or tar-like substance. Heroin can be injected into a vein, injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw or snorted as powder via the nose.

Short-term effects

  • feeling happy
  • feeling warm
  • dry mouth
  • feeling that your arms and legs are heavy
  • feeling sleepy
  • slowed and slurred speech
  • vomiting and constipation.

Long-term effects

Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop

  • collapsed veins
  • infections of the heart
  • skin infections
  • liver disease
  • pneumonia

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which can occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces restlessness, muscle and bone pain, inability to sleep, diarrhea and vomiting, feeling cold, kicking movements and other symptoms. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can lead to death.

Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a "joint". It can be smoked or mixed into food or brewed as tea.

Short-term effects

  • Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning
  • trouble with thinking and problem solving
  • loss of motor coordination
  • increased heart rate and
  • anxiety
  • dry mouth and throat.

Long-term effects

Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

Inhalants are ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed by children to get high. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants. Examples of products used are:

  1. glue
  2. nail polish remover
  3. cleaning fluids
  4. hair spray
  5. petrol and others.

These products are sniffed, snorted or inhaled from a plastic bag. Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.

Short-term effects

  • feeling excited
  • losing consciousness
  • headache
  • muscle weakness
  • abdominal pain
  • severe mood swings and violent behavior
  • numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
  • nausea
  • hearing loss
  • fatigue and
  • lack of coordination.

Long-term effects

Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals can directly cause death

  • death from suffocation
  • hearing loss
  • brain damage
  • liver and kidney damage.

Deliberately inhaling from an attached paper or plastic bag or in a closed area greatly increases the chances of suffocation.

Medical Treatment
The key to treatment is stopping the abuse of the drugs or substances.

Agitated or violent people need physical restraint and may need sedating medications in the emergency department until the effects of the drugs wear off. This can be disturbing for the person to experience and for family members to witness. Medical professionals go to great lengths to use as little force and as few medications as possible. It is important to remember that whatever the medical staff does, it is to protect the person.

Withdrawal from some drugs can cause a lot of problems, and stopping these drugs should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal from other agents, such as narcotics, is uncomfortable but generally not harmful, and the doctor will give medicine to reduce the side effects.

Counselling programs may be suggested. These programs are helpful to some people.

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The basic treatment plan of Narconon Fresh Start addresses the root cause of taking drugs and provides the clients with the specific solution to their individualistic problems.