August 24, 2019

Kiambu’s alcohol menace is a neglected tragedy, says counseling psychologist

Counseling psychologist specializing on substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation Gladys Chania in Wangige in one of her outreach programmes. [courtesy]

A leading counseling psychologist specializing on substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation in the country has termed Kiambu County’s alcohol menace a “neglected tragedy”.

Proprietor of Right Home Rehabilitation Centre in Thika, Gladys Chania says the fight against the vice in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard is challenging and exhausting, something she attributes to failure by authorities involved.

Chania notes alcoholism in many parts of the county is exacerbated by poverty and high unemployment rates among youths. Further, the advent of illicit brews and second generation liquor which are cheap have worsened the situation.

“Youth unemployment and poverty has made the fight against alcoholism and drug abuse not only challenging but also exhausting.

The agencies mandated to fight this vice have become political; its professionals are driven by self-interests and at the end of the day, the fight against alcoholism is reduced to PR and real facts are covered,” she offers during an interview with Jamhuri News.

She adds that with a high number of addicts diagnosed too late, it has been a tall order to rehabilitate them because it is expensive and rehab facilities are limited.

Chania points out that corruption and a weak justice system have been a hindrance towards total eradication of illicit brews and drugs menace in Kiambu.

“Corruption and light fines slapped on culprits found selling illicit brews or drugs is part of the problem the county is facing.”

In a report by National Agency for the Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) in 2015, it revealed that Kiambu residents spend Sh14 billion annually on buying alcohol.

On Tuesday, Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’i cited the number of bars and pubs in the county surpass that of institutions like schools which is alarmingly dangerous for future generation.

“It is very sad to note that we have more bars and clubs in the county that both primary and secondary schools combined. Currently, the county has 777 primary and 369 secondary schools while it has 3062 bars and clubs. This is unacceptable and must be checked,” said the CS in Makwa, Gatundu North according to the Standard.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has ordered for closure of all bars in the county in effort to fight the alcohol menace.

All bar and pubs proprietors will apply afresh for licenses in line with the recently enacted Kiambu County Alcoholic Drinks Act.

In slaying the menace, she says the issue will only be addressed through a multi-faceted approach which ropes in support from government, society, religious and family institutions.

“The rotten family fabric has yielded a rotten society both morally and socially. We must enhance our values so that our youth can grow knowing the dangers of engaging in these vices,” remarks Chania.

“Government on its part needs to distinguish between politics and the technical work which in regard to the fight against alcoholism is treatment, counseling, rehabilitation and mentoring.”

She also proposes cutting the supply of raw materials used to brew illicit drinks and manufacture drugs to effectively fight alcoholism and drug addiction among youths in Kiambu.