The youths in Trans Nzoia County have been cautioned against abusing outlawed drugs and related substances to avoid falling victims to resultant challenges and diseases.
This was among key messages by medical practitioners from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) at a mental health awareness workshop which assembled at over 100 youths drawn from the County.
The one-day workshop, held at Lessos estate on Wednesday, was organized by the Solid Rock Agape Church.
Dr Eunice Temet, a lead medic at MTRH’s Mental Unit, disclosed scientific research findings which revealed youths as the most vulnerable victims of drugs and substance abuse, thus the urgent need for campaign forums targeting the group.
Appealing to stakeholders and well-wishers, Temet underscored the significance of such sensitization sessions, saying the approach could go a long way in addressing the problem of drug abuse in the country.
Citing mental health problems as one of the leading effects of drug abuse, Temet said most drug peddlers often target young youth due to the fact that the majority of members of this group lack sufficient and important knowledge on drugs and related products.
“Research shows how easier it can be to get out of drug and substance addicts that are still tender in age than those who have grown old with it,” Temet remarked.
Illicit liquor, snuff tobacco and cocaine were identified among the most peddled substances along the streets of Kenyan towns.
Temet told the gathering the Eldoret referral facility was getting overwhelmed by mental health problems, with a bigger percentage of the same attributed to addiction to consumption of illicit liquor and outlawed drugs.
“Therefore, it is advisable for parents, guardians and stakeholders, including religious organizations, to educate children on effects and dangers associated with drug and substance abuse,” urged Temet.
The medic acknowledged the staff at MTRH’s Mental Health Unit, which she praised for organizing several sensitization programmes which bring together parents and youths in several parts of North Rift Valley region.
Speaking on behalf of the church, Rev. Paul Wahome said the workshop was prompted by what he described as increasing moral decadence as a result of the ballooning population of the youth that is getting addicted to drugs in the region.
Wahome further expressed concern over vices related to drug abuse, including homosexuality and lesbianism among a section of youths in the area. The clergyman called on religious leaders across the country to be at the forefront in the fight against drug and substance abuse.
Some of the minors who spoke to Kenya News Agency cited peer influence, family break-ups as well as myths and beliefs as some of the commonest excuses for engaging in drug and substance abuse.
Kevin Wasai, a youth from Lessos, regretted indulgence in drug and substance wastes study time for youths who are in learning institutions with no end reward.
By Maurice Aluda