The history of NACADA commences in 1996 when the Inter-Ministerial Drugs Coordinating Committee was constituted. The Committee was chaired by the Solicitor General while the Attorney General’s office provided the Secretariat.

Later in April 2001 through a Gazette Notice, the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) was formed. Its primary function was to initiate a public education and awareness campaign against drug abuse especially among youth in schools and other learning institutions. This was in response to a wave of violent student unrest and suspicion of devil worship, part of which was blamed on drug abuse.

The Agency operated as such until May 2006 when the President established an Advisory Board and appointed its Chairman vide Kenya Gazette Notice No. 3749 of 19th May 2006.

In 2007, through Legal Notice No. 140 published in the Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 70 of 29th June 2007, the Agency was transformed into the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA Authority) under the State Corporations Act (Cap 446 of the Laws of Kenya). It was placed in the Office of the President under the Ministry of State for Provincial Administration & Internal Security. The 2007 mandate enabled NACADA to coordinate a multi-sectoral campaign to prevent, control and mitigate the impacts of alcohol and drug abuse in the country.

In August 2010, the Authority’s mandate was expanded to include facilitating implementation of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010.

In July 2012, President Kibaki assented to the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse Act, 2012 thereby establishing NACADA under an Act of Parliament.