The media has been challenged to continue creating awareness on the disastrous effects of illicit drug menace in the society.
Taib Abdulrahman, the Executive Director of Reachout Centre Trust says the media plays an important role in highlighting drug use and community perceptions.
Reachout Centre Trust is a leading non-profit organisation that provides substance abuse treatment and prevention services in Mombasa.
It provides harm reduction services to key population (people who use drugs) with the aim of reducing harm associated with drug use such as HIV transmissions through hotspot based outreaches services, counseling, advocacy and reintegration.
Abdulrahman a prominent Mombasa based anti-drug campaigner underscored the need to spotlight the disastrous effect of intoxication from drugs on individual’s health and the economy.
He said there is an urgent need to use the power of the media to educate the population especially the youth on the dangers inherent to substance abuse and illicit drugs.
Abdulrahman spoke on Friday night during the Media Awards 2020 organised by Reachout Centre Trust where several local journalists walked away with awards in various categories.
The event organised under the theme ‘support, don’t punish’ was attended by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Homabay County Woman Rep Gladys Wanga.
Others who attended the event were Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata, Coast Region National Authority for the Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) manager George Karissa, Nyali sub county Deputy County Commissioner Silas Gatobu and Mombasa Chief Magistrate Evans Makori among other invited guests.
The two legislators said addicts need help, treatment and rehabilitation and not to be punished and jailed.
Ismail Salim a rehabilitated drug addict moved the audience to tears on his eight year journey in fighting the debilitating drug addiction.
He said on the years he was dependent on drugs he faced discrimination, intimidation, stigma, harassment and shaming from family, friends, police and the general public.
Salim now an ardent anti-drug campaigner says people who experience stigma regarding their drug use are less likely to seek help and treatment.
He said addiction does not respect social class and income saying that many addicts often resort to peddling as a source of income while other simply steal to support their habit.
“I can’t thank enough Reachout Trust Centre for turning my life around” he said stressing that stigma associated with drugs often stops people from seeking help.
NACADA has expressed concern that youths in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu are under the grip of illicit drugs.
Drugs have been a scourge in the coastal counties which has become a major consumer base of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, mandrax and hashish.
The anti-drug agency says the alarming rate of hard drug use among the youth in the region has assumed a worrisome dimension despite persistent campaigns against the vice.
The main function of NACADA is to campaign against drug abuse and create awareness on the dangers of drug abuse.
By Hussein Abdullahi