Recreational drug use in Kenya

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Drug abuse is a major issue in Kenya, especially in the city of Mombasa and especially among men in their early 20s. Women in Mombasa have held public protests, asking for better enforcement of the laws against narcotics. In Mombasa and Kilindini, there are approximately 40 maskani (meaning location in Swahili) where drug abusers meet to share drugs. The traditional recreational drug of choice is cannabis, but heroin injection is becoming increasingly popular. In a survey,[citation needed] 70 percent of recreational drug users said they were using heroin.


Unemployment and low education[edit]

The research estimates Kenya's unemployment rate is at 40%, the 14th-highest among the 200 countries with unemployment figures. With the average Kenyan dropping out of school after 10 years this leaves many youth without productive uses for their time.

Peer pressure[edit]

Peer pressure is a major factor contributing towards drug abuse. Many addicts have admitted that they started using drugs because it was popular among their friends. There is also a high probability that many of the beach boys are using drugs so that they can be able to face their clients in a smart way.


A recent study[citation needed] found that many young men used drugs because they believed that ghosts could not haunt the men when they were high. The CIA World Factbook indicates[1] that roughly 10% of Kenyans hold religious beliefs indigenous to the area, although it does not document the extent to which these beliefs involve ghosts.



Many people in Mombasa are concerned that if they walk alone they may be mugged by young men whose costly addiction has driven them to criminal careers.


Needle sharing contributes to the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases in Kenya, as does a phenomenon known as "flashing blood"[2] where a heroin user will draw blood from himself to inject into a friend's bloodstream with the aim of transferring some of the heroin. Malnutrition increases many users' susceptibility.[citation needed]

Slow economic development[edit]

Drug abuse has slowed economic development in many parts of Mombasa, helping keep unemployment rates high and economic productivity low even among the users themselves. In addition, high crime rates discourage foreign investment.

Life expectancy[edit]

Drugs are reducing life expectancy for young people.[citation needed] Because so many young people die of diseases related to drug use, many[who?] are concerned that a population pyramid shift may leave too few people of working age to support the country's senior citizens.


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  2. ^ Gathura, Gatonya (16 November 2009). "New Scary Trend in Drug Abuse". Daily Nation. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 

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