Commonly Abused Drugs in Kenya


Both legal and illegal drugs have chemicals that can alter how your body and mind work. They give you a “pleasurable” ease your stress, or help you avoid problems in your life. People who are stressed or having other issues in life is more likely to abuse substances to escape the reality leading to substance abuse disorders.


Alcohol affects everyone differently. If, you drink excessively and make it habit, your chance of an injury or accident and eventually suffering from alcoholism are high. Heavy drinking also associated with liver and other health problems or lead to a more serious alcohol disorder. Alcohol is among the most abused drug in Kenya.

According to NACADA Substance Abuse Report 2017 12.2% 0f Kenyans aged 15-65 are constantly using alcohol. Current use of alcohol is defined as those reporting use of alcohol in the last one month. About 16.6% of urban dwellers are current users of various types of alcohol compared to 11.4% of rural dwellers.

Effects of alcohol Abuse

  • Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Driving a car or operating machinery will cause accidents leading to injuries or death.
  • Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver failure. Alcohol drug can cause heart enlargement and cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, and stomach.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine

These can be just as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs. You can abuse medicine if you:

  • Take medicine prescribed for someone else
  • Take extra doses or use a drug other than the way it’s supposed to be taken
  • Take the drug for a non-medical reason

Types of prescription drugs that are most often abused include:

  • pain relievers
  • Medicine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety medicine

The most commonly abused OTC drugs are cough and cold medicine that have dextromethorphan, which in high doses can make one feel drunk or intoxicated.

There were 1,338 drug related deaths in Kenya in 2016, as per a review of drug abuse data by Nation Newsplex. The leading cause of the deaths was Opioid abuse a drug used as a pain reliever.


 This group of substances includes solvents that emit vapors, causing intoxication when breathed in (inhaled). Individuals who abuse inhalants intentionally breathe in the vapors, either directly from a container, from a bag in which such a substance is in, or from a rag soaked with the substance and then placed over the mouth or nose.

Inhalants may lead into chemical and temperature burns, as well as withdrawal symptoms, chronic mental illness, and even sudden death. Long-term damage associated with inhalant use includes brain and nerve damage as well as heart, liver, or kidney failure.


Bhang affects the perception of time, distance, and speed. It upsets coordination, causing unsteady hands, a change in gait, uncontrolled laughter, and a lag between thought and facial expressions. Sexual functions are disturbed.

One may suffer illusions and hallucinations, difficulty in recalling events in the immediate past, slowed thinking and narrowed attention span, depersonalization, euphoria, depression, drowsiness, lack of sleep, difficulty in making accurate self-evaluation, a lowering of inhibition, loss of judgment, mental and physical lethargy.

Drugs abuse is not only dangerous to your body but it will lead to addiction which unless treated well and in dignified way it will lead to serious complications.