The World Drug Day or International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on 26th of June annually. The day is meant to encourage people quit drug addiction and live a healthier life.
This year’s theme of the day is ‘People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.’ The aim is to talk about the importance of raising awareness and treating people who use drugs with empathy and respect.
The day is meant to encourage people help create favourable environment for victims of drug abuse and offer alternatives for punishment. This will help the victims get rid of the stigma attached to it and make it easy to encourage them stop the habit.
On this day, everyone has been called upon to raise awareness on the negative impacts of stigma and discrimination on addicts and promote voluntary services for them.
In Kenya, the commonly abused drugs include; bhang, heroin, cocaine, local brew (chang’aa), Kuber and mandrax, alcohol (beer,wines & spirits), tobacco and khat commonly known as miraa.
We are urged to educate others about drug use disorders, available treatments and the importance of early intervention and support. We are also encouraged to promote language and attitude that are respectful and non-judgmental towards those who use drugs.
It can be done by young people opting for different ways of spending their time or hanging out with peers other than drug addiction and trafficking. Encouraging others to participate in anti-drug campaigns and rallies is also key in the fight against drugs.
The government, non-governmental organizations, the media, social institutions like schools and other groups should should be in the frontline in creating awareness and supporting the programmes. Everyone has a role to play in creating a drug-free society.
By Matildah Obaigwa