Many times, people do think that addiction is such a simple thing to manage but the reality is that this condition can stretch up to the longest time one cannot imagine. On the other hand substance abuse is the excessive use of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drugs. According to the World Health Organization, cannabis is the most abused substance in Africa. Also, harmful use of alcohol contributes to 3.3 million deaths annually in the world. Consequently, at least 15.3 million people have drug use disorder. Furthermore, injecting drugs are reported in 148 countries with 120 reported HIV infections among this population.  Addiction to illicit substances has adversely affected a huge population across different countries. In Kenya, alcohol use is leading with 13%, cigarettes with 11 % and marijuana at 1%.  Also data on current use of multiple drugs and substance of abuse stands at 6%. This statistics from NACADA shows that the highly affected people are of the ages between 15 -65 

In Kenya youths are the most affected by addiction and substance abuse. This is brought forth by a number of factors such as; peer pressure which emerges as a popular factor. This is a pressure felt from friends and family members who are also drug addicts and therefore influences them towards drug use which later leads to addiction. Social media is another powerful tool that influences youths towards drugs and substance use. A large number of youths, with emerging technology, have access to social media. They are always exposed to pictures and videos of people using substances, therefore teens think it is socially acceptable. The curiosity to see how it feels to use drugs has swept away youths into addiction. The prevalent unemployment of youths in Kenya makes them so unengaged therefore they only think around use of drugs that occupies their mind and purportedly feel a sense of belonging. Poverty and lack of support from parents or family members has forcefully made youths be desperate, live in denial and there opt for drugs for consolation. 

Addiction and substance abuse to the extreme end has severe impacts on the users. Depression and anxiety is one of the effects which is brought about by biochemical effects of drugs of abuse since they trigger depression and anxiety either when using the drug or as its effects begin to subside and withdrawal sets in. isolation is also another effect of drug abuse. Addiction quickly becomes a lifestyle. An addicted person dedicates more and more of their attention to getting drugs, finding ways to use and concealing their use from others. All these behaviors separate them from others who are not participating in our addiction. Substance abuse leads to damaging relationships. Relationships with family, friends and romantic partners can be challenging even in the best of times and when we are completely sober. Introducing drugs into the equation can only make things worse. We are more apt to fight and argue when we are irritable and not feeling right. The obliteration of our senses can make us less emphatic and aware of the needs of others.  The choices we make while using can cause psychic wounds to those we love. Substance abuse can also cause health problems. One of the effects of substance abuse people are most familiar with is on physical health.

There often has to be a solution to the rising drugs and substance use in Kenya as it identified that most youths who are unemployed tend to sink in drugs and substance abuse, creation of meaningful jobs that can sustain youths and do away with idleness can help protect this large population from addiction to drugs. Decentralization of rehabilitation centers to different parts of the country will help streamline youths who are already addicts hence influence them otherwise. These rehabilitation centers should also be cost friendly to most parents to avoid fear of high costs. Additionally, youth friendly language should be used in the rehabilitation centers for youths not to shy away. The government should also take a strict role and put in place as well as implement policies that will ensure drug trafficking is done away with. It is always a general responsibility of parents to mentor their children as well as instill good social ethics into them. This will ensure we bring up an upright generation. Parents and guardians should also limit exposure of their children to social media and to pictures and videos of drugs and drug use. This will in turn help to pull out youths from drugs and substance use.

As a measure to manage mental health issues, drugs and substance abuse in the society should be well taken care off because it is the main cause of most mental health issues such as stress, depression, anxiety and even suicide. Mental health awareness talks should prevail in most of our discussions in order to help one silent person suffering from mental health issues. As mental health experts, we should take it up upon ourselves to widely create awareness and impact most youths towards being mental health ambassadors. This will go a long way in identification, prevention and treatment of different mental health issues that may arise in our communities.

Written by Valary Olesia, 

Mental health is a vital component of our overall well-being. Just as we take care of our physical health
by exercising, eating well, and getting enough rest, we must also prioritize self-care for our mental health.
Self-care is the practice of taking intentional actions to support our emotional and psychological wellbeing. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of self-care for mental health and provide some
practical tips to help you incorporate self-care into your daily routine.
Why Self-Care is Important for Mental Health
Self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health. Engaging in self-care practices can help reduce
stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. When we take care of ourselves, we improve our ability to cope
with difficult emotions and situations. Additionally, self-care helps us to recognize our needs and
prioritize our well-being. This, in turn, leads to a greater sense of self-worth and a more positive outlook
on life.
Tips for Self-Care

  1. Prioritize rest: Getting enough rest is essential for good mental health. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep
    each night and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  2. Exercise regularly: Exercise is a natural mood booster and can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety
    and depression. Find an activity you enjoy and aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  3. Engage in mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment without
    judgment. It can help reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. Try
    meditating, deep breathing, or yoga.
  4. Connect with others: Social connections are crucial for mental health. Make time for friends and
    family and seek out new social opportunities.
  5. Practice self-compassion: Self-compassion is the practice of treating ourselves with kindness and
    understanding. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and be gentle with yourself when
    things don’t go as planned.
  6. Engage in hobbies: Engaging in activities you enjoy can help reduce stress and increase feelings
    of happiness. Try taking up a new hobby or spending time doing something you love.
    Incorporating Self-Care into Your Daily Routine
    Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Start by incorporating small self-care
    practices into your daily routine. For example, take a few minutes each day to meditate, go for a walk, or
    write in a journal. Additionally, make time for activities you enjoy and prioritize rest and relaxation.
    In conclusion, self-care is essential for good mental health. Prioritizing your well-being can help reduce
    stress and anxiety, increase feelings of happiness and fulfillment, and improve your ability to cope with
    difficult emotions and situations. Remember to be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority in your
    daily routine.
    Mariam Yusuf – Nivishe Foundation
  • Self-Care for Mental Health: Prioritizing Your Well-Being

    Self-Care for Mental Health: Prioritizing Your Well-Being

     Many times, people do think that addiction is such a simple thing to manage but the reality is that this condition can stretch up to the longest time one cannot imagine. On the other hand substance abuse is the excessive use of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drugs. According to the…

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