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NACADA rules out fentanyl abuse in Mombasa

NACADA Ag. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prof. John Muteti (FILE)

The National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) report shows that there is no evidence of fentanyl use in the coastal region as it emerges that drug users have resorted to the use of veterinary drugs to boost euphoria from heroin use.

According to the United Nations Office on Drug Abuse and Crime (UNODC) Fentanyl and its analogues are potent synthetic opioids, which are liable to abuse.

The drugs are often sold under the guise of heroin or prescription medicines, such as oxycodone, and this exacerbates the risk of overdose and associated fatalities.

About a month ago videos doing rounds in social media were brought to the attention of the Authority by members of the public of supposed users of an unidentified drug that made them appear inebriated. The videos prompted the authority to start a fortnight-long research to establish if the drug could be Fentanyl.

Through collaboration with key stakeholders including; the Government Chemist, National government Administrative officers (NGAOS), and civil society, findings from the research have revealed no reports of fentanyl have been recorded.

Speaking at a press conference at the County Commissioner’s office in Mombasa, NACADA Ag. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prof. John Muteti said that during the fact-finding mission, 20 samples were collected from drug users in Mombasa, Kwale, and Kilifi counties and handed over to the Government Chemist for analysis and identification.

“As the lead agency in coordination of issues related to alcohol and drug abuse in the country, the authority mobilized all relevant stakeholders to unravel this puzzle. From the findings we can comfortably report that so far we do not have any reported Fentanyl cases in the country” said Muteti.

Muteti added that from the preliminary report, they have discovered that the excessive inebriation depicted by the supposed users could be attributed to several factors including excessive use of other drugs that include high doses of heroin, a combination of high doses11 of prescription drugs, especially Diazepam and Amitriptyline.

Mono use or a combination of heroin and Xylazine, a veterinary animal tranquilizer.

“It’s evident that drug users are resulting in the use of multiple substances, especially prescription drugs to complement the available heroin whose potency has over time been proven to be reducing,” said Prof. Muteti.

The use of Xylazine Prof. Muteti warned that it presents a potential public health crisis in the management of drug overdose cases ‘because the life-saving drug Naloxone does not respond to its overdose’.

Prof. Muteti says there is an urgent need to institute measures to regulate and control the use of veterinary drugs in the illegal market.

NACADA lauded the public for playing a vigilant role and reported suspected cases of fentanyl use.

On their part community-based organizations led by Reach Out Centre Director Abdulrahman Taib echoed Muteti’s sentiments, acknowledging that poly use of drugs is now at the core and has now become the norm among many drug users.

Taib acknowledged the fact that users have had to come up with ingenious ways to achieve the euphoria levels they are accustomed to and have now resorted to the use of multiple drugs simultaneously.

“Research continues to vindicate the fact that many users have changed tact and have now resorted to poly use. Some of the reasons they do this are circumstantial based on diverse factors including availability, potency, and the purchasing ability of the user” said Taib.

Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha, said a multi-agency approach to crack down on drugs and substance use in the coastal region has borne fruits.

She said multiage agency teams in Kilifi County have been able to nab Cannabis Sativa being sneaked in through Kilifi in large quantities after the suppression of hard drugs like heroin.