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Determinants of Alcohol, Khat, and Bhang Use in Rural Kenya

KE Kinoti
LA Jason
GW Harper


The study investigated local determinants of substance use in rural Kenya. Over the years, there has been a growing concern over increased use of substances across ages, gender, religious persuasions, and social class in Kenya. It is still unclear what psychosocial individual and/or community factors might be that offer some explanation for the high levels of alcohol and drug use. The study investigated community members’ social status in areas of gender, education, employment, self–esteem, and availability of substances. The sample was comprised of Kenyan rural participants, and included 153 men and 64 women with a mean age of 34.2 years. The participants completed a survey measuring possible psychosocial determinants of alcohol, khat and bhang (i.e., marijuana) use patterns. The sample evidenced high levels of substance use particularly involving the locally available substances (i.e., bottled beer, local brews, chewing khat, smoking bhang). Males in comparison to females were more likely to drink alcohol, chew khat, and smoke bhang. Women compared to men reported higher education and employment status, which were associated with less substance use. Females had higher self-esteem when they did not use bottled beer whereas males had higher self-esteem when they use bottled beer. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: psychosocial determinants, substance use, rural, age, gender, social class