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By Abigael Wanjiku

The International Day Against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is celebrated on June 26th every year. A day to increase action and cooperation in the pursuit of a drug-free world. Not only an occasion to educate the public about current issues, and mobilize political will and resources to address global issues, but also to recognize and reinforce humanity's achievements.

The 2023 theme for the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, “Stopping Stigma and Discrimination, and Strengthening Prevention,” resonates deeply with the country’s commitment to addressing these challenges. It underscores the need to break down societal stigmas and discriminatory attitudes towards individuals struggling with drug abuse, while also emphasizing the importance of robust prevention strategies to curb the prevalence of substance abuse.

Certain groups, such as the youth, marginalized communities, and those living in poverty, are particularly vulnerable to drug abuse and trafficking. Tailored prevention programs must be implemented to address their unique needs. Statistics from the 2022 National Survey on the Status of Drugs and Substance Use in Kenya show that the average age category for initiation of tobacco, alcohol, khat, cannabis, prescription drugs, cocaine, and heroin was 16-20 years.

Addressing drug abuse and illicit trafficking requires a collective effort involving government agencies, civil society organizations, healthcare providers, and communities at large. The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2023 serves as a rallying call to join forces and combat the global crisis of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

By raising awareness, promoting prevention, and taking decisive actions, we can work towards a world where individuals are empowered, communities are resilient, and societies are free from the devastating consequences of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.