The University of Nairobi Community joined the world in commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADA). IDADA is observed on 26th June every year following an agreement by the United Nations General Assembly 33 years ago. This agreement was an expression of the global determination to strengthen action and cooperation towards an international society free of drug abuse.
Dr. Frank Njenga, Clinician, Presidential Advisor on Mental Health, noted that drug and alcohol addiction is attributed to the feeling of sweetness experienced when partaking in these vices. “Why do people use drugs? Because they start. People continue using drugs because of the Utamu, addiction is a chronic brain disease, and you can’t wish it away. Dr. Njenga also observed that out of all the demographics the growing adolescent was extremely vulnerable to addiction.
“Adolescence and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs. In colleges of higher learning, drug and substance abuse has contributed to the risk of poor academic performance and students taking longer to complete their studies or dropping out of the university.” Were sentiments by Prof. Enos Njeru, DVHRA, recognizing Dr. Njenga’s expert opinion.
Prof. Julius Ogeng’o, DVCAA, on his part, shared his encounters with individuals battling this menace. Some of those individuals included students who performed poorly in their studies and had to be discontinued from the University showing the gravity of addiction to a young person’s life. Prof. Ogeng’o acknowledged the fact that he was more alert when it came to fighting drug and alcohol abuse because it was a problem he was able to relate with.
“The University of Nairobi is employing a more comprehensive approach to address the range of drug-related challenges through the implementation of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy, prevention and control activities, and reduction of supply initiatives. The University is using this event to reach out to the larger University Community and indeed our families in order to convey very important messages under the theme - ‘Share facts on drugs, Save lives ’to our children, youth and loved ones.” These were sentiments by Prof. Stephen Kiama, the Vice-Chancellor, on the University of Nairobi’s commitment to ensuring that it was investing in the well-being of its staff and students by addressing alcohol and drug-related challenges.
The Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, shared the Vice Chancellor's sentiments with regards to addressing substance abuse at the University. “My dream is to have a university free of alcohol and drugs.” She also hoped that the university would educate anti-substance abuse ambassadors that would spread the message to their communities.
The event ended with a cautionary tale from Maureen Muyodi a Medical Officer at the University Health Services. She explained the effects alcohol and drugs had on the cardiovascular system; stimulants like nicotine lead to a fight or flight reaction in the body. “Your body is always in a heightened state of ‘fight or flight’, leading to an increased level of adrenaline and other hormones which lead to an increased heart rate, an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, narrowing and stiffening of blood vessels and spasms of the heart muscles and vessels. All these lead to Myocardial infarction also known as a heart attack.