Trends and emerging drugs in Kenya: A case study in Mombasa and Nairobi County
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Background: Increasing popularity of emerging drugs or the ‘legal high’ is of major concern to the Government. Emerging psychoactive substances e.g. morphine, carnabinoids, cathinones are not controlled and are believed to cause harm if not more than controlled drugs. They are being sold all over as legal substances and consumed openly. Objective: To evaluate the trends and patterns of emerging drugs use, magnitude and their impact in the Counties. Methods: A questionnaire was administered to 702 respondents in Nairobi and Mombasa Counties. The social dynamics, types of emerging drugs, drug initiation age, source of drugs, venue of consumption, and their effects on respondents among other issues were investigated. Qualitative, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were done. Results: The drug initiation age ranged from 5 to 28 years though most started abusing the drugs at 21years (18%), with over 81% being introduced by friends. They are abused for their stimulating, hallucinating, depressants effects on the streets, club, drug dens, party but rarely at home and schools. Forty one (41) emerging drugs (see text) comprising of one or combinations of drugs were recorded, with Nairobi recording significant higher number of emerging drugs than Mombasa. Most of the highly abused drugs were ‘kuber, shisha, shashaman, mau, tambuu, jet fuel, kukumanga, mkorogo, mshomoro, rohypnol, Artaine and kamusi. ‘Shisha’ and ‘kuber’ were most commonly abused drugs in both counties. Over 25% of the shisha and kuber abusers aged between 26 to 35 years. The emerging drugs were purchased drugs from various outlets, thus making it difficult to track. Some respondents injected either heroin or cocaine while others injected both heroin and cocaine thus, placing the individuals at risk of contracting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C. The emerging drugs have a lot of impact on the county’s security, economy, education, school drop-out rate, non performance at work place and reproductive health. Conclusion and recommendations: The Government should set up of rehabilitation centres, training programmes on alcohol and drug abuse, establish Employee Assistant Programmes, wellness centres, control sale of prescription medicine, stiff penalties on drug peddlers and ban of advertisement on media. There is need for all stakeholders to review the alcohol and Drug Abuse policy to include new and emerging drugs in order to mitigate illnesses deaths and associated with emerging drugs. Government should come up with ways of tracking and controlling the emerging drugs especially shisha, kuber, and prescription medicine. Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) issues should be incorporated in the education curriculum at all levels.