One in every five young people in the 25-35 age brackets is currently abusing a drug or a substance such as alcohol, National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has revealed.
In its 2017-2022 report – National Survey on the Status of Drugs and Substance Use (DSU) in Kenya – which is released every five years, the vulnerable group represents the out-of-school youth who randomly fall into the vices for various reasons.
The semi-autonomous State Corporation under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government noted that the Ministry of Education needs to roll out a tailored life skills programme aimed at sustaining abstinence or delaying initiation into drugs and substance use in primary and secondary schools.
It further showed that one in every seven youth (1,137,288) is currently using alcohol, one in every 17 (488,845) is using tobacco, and one in every 21 (388,735) chews khat.
One in every 48 (174,142) uses cannabis, one in every 500 (19,112) uses prescription drugs, and one in every 16 (494,218) uses multiple drugs.
The prevalence of lifetime use of alcohol for this group is 22 per cent; with male youth accounting for the highest rates at 32.5 per cent compared to their female counterparts at 14.4 per cent.
Those in the urban areas have a higher prevalence of lifetime use of alcohol at 26.6 per cent compared to those in rural areas at 19.1 per cent, with the findings of the survey showing that Western and Nairobi regions recorded the highest number of alcohol users at 42.5 per cent and 28.8 per cent respectively.
On tobacco, the prevalence of lifetime use is 12 per cent, with males having the highest percentage at 21.3 per cent compared to females at 4.6 per cent.
Those in the urban areas have the highest prevalence of lifetime use of tobacco at 13.1 per cent, while the rural areas stand at 10.9 per cent.
Central and Coast regions have the highest prevalence of lifetime use of tobacco at 19.9 per cent and 16.6 per cent respectively, while Nyanza is lowest at 6 per cent.
A toddler’s game
The survey report also showed that children as young as six years old are now abusing drugs.
According to the data, the average age for initiation into tobacco, alcohol, khat, cannabis, prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin is 16 – 20 years.
However, the minimum age recorded for tobacco use is 6 years, alcohol 7, cannabis and prescription drugs 8, khat 9, heroin 18, and cocaine 20 years.
The findings, which will be used to inform evidence-based policies and programmes for the next 5-year planning phase, revealed further that one in every 11 youth in the 15-24 bracket, translating to a total of 632,846, is using at least one drug or substance, while one in every 20 (367,608) drinks alcohol.
Further, one in every 31 (230,130) uses tobacco, one in every 28 (259,954) uses khat (miraa/muguka), one in every 37 (193,430) uses cannabis, one in every 1,000 (8,328) uses prescription drugs, and one in every 26 (267,454) uses multiple drugs.
The report reveals that this group’s use of tobacco is at 7 per cent, with males recording the highest prevalence of lifetime consumption at 12.3 per cent compared to females at 3.2 per cent.
The results further show that those in the urban areas had a higher prevalence of lifetime use of tobacco at 10.8 per cent compared to those in the rural areas at 5.4 per cent; Nairobi once again leading at 15 per cent.
The lifetime use of cannabis on the other hand is 4 per cent; with males have a higher prevalence at 8 per cent compared to females at 1.1 per cent.
The prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis was higher in the urban areas at 7.8 per cent compared to the rural areas at 2.4 per cent; Nairobi topping at 9.7 per cent while the Western region scored the lowest at 2.2 per cent.
By Education News reporter
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