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A study of drug use in five urban centres in Kenya

DM Ndetei
L Khasakhala
FA Ong’echa
D Kokonya
V Mutiso
M Kuria
G Odhiambo
S Akanga


Few studies have addressed the reasons for substance use in Kenya, with most focusing on prevalence rates in school-based and general population samples. None have been carried out among people already using drugs. This study, based on five samples of drug users, aimed to identify patterns of factors contributing to and consequences of substance use; compare socio-demographic characteristics; document help-seeking behaviours of substance abusers as well as their family and social dynamics. Active or former substance abusers (N =1,420) were interviewed using a structured questionnaire format. The peak age for substance abuse was between 21 and 30 years and most abusers were male. Leisure, stress and peer pressure were the most common reasons given for abusing substances. There were negative economic and work-related impacts of abusing substances. Risky sexual behaviour may have been a consequenc of abusing substances. Substance abusers need assistance as most of them could benefit from programmes for treatment and rehabilitation.

Keywords: substance abuse, Kenya, urban, peri-urban