A drug is any substance legal or
illegal; which when administered - orally, or by injecting,
snorting, smoking inhaling e.t.c, Stimulates or depresses
the C.N.S (Stimulating – increasing the CNS activity);
(Depressing – lessening the CNS activity (relaxation)).
Ecstasy is a stimulant and increases
Users report that it causes a sense of euphoria, followed
by a feeling of calm. They claim it makes them feel
more sociable and increases their awareness of their
However, like many drugs, ecstasy is reported to exaggerate
a person's existing mood.
Ecstasy affects body temperature. When combined with
dancing for long periods in a hot place, users can risk
dehydration, which may be fatal.
Large doses of the drug can cause anxiety, panic and
Ecstasy is not thought to lead to addiction and there
are no specific withdrawal symptoms.
However, immediate side effects can include nausea,
a dry mouth, raised blood pressure and depression.
Research on long-time users suggests it may cause brain
damage and mental illness as well as liver and kidney
problems in later life.
People with problems such as epilepsy, high blood pressure
and depression are thought to be more likely to suffer
side effects from ecstasy use.
Cocaine is a stimulant that causes a
feeling of exhilaration and decreases appetite.
Users may experience indifference to pain and tiredness.
When it is snorted, its effects wear off within 15 minutes
to half an hour so it has to be taken every 20 minutes
to maintain its effect.
Many users believe they perform better on cocaine, but
research shows that this is probably just their perception
rather than reality.
Cocaine can make the heart beat irregularly and increases
Large or frequent doses can reduce libido and lead to
restlessness and paranoia.
Very large doses can cause death through heart or respiratory
Common side effects after coming down from the drug
include depression and tiredness.
Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness and severe
Some people are very sensitive to the drug and may die
after their first dose.
Regular snorting of the drug can cause damage to the
membranes of the nose and injecting the drug through
dirty or shared needles carries the risk of infection.
Cocaine use during pregnancy can lead to birth defects
and low birth weight babies and babies may be born addicted
to the drug.
People who smoke crack cocaine are more likely to become
dependent and to suffer from side effects.
First time use of heroin can cause nausea,
vomiting and severe headaches.
Generally, however, the drug creates a high a few minutes
after it has been smoked or injected. Injection leads
to quicker, more powerful high, but sharing needles
can increase the risk of infection.
Users often experience a feeling of well-being, contentment
and detachment from daily worries.
Tolerance builds up with use so greater amounts of the
drug are needed to create the high. This can eventually
lead to addiction.
It also increases the risk of overdosing. Research shows
that overdose often occurs after users have tried to
come off the drug.
When they start taking it again, they often resort to
the dose they were on when they stopped, although their
tolerance is not as high.
The fact that heroin is often adulterated with other
substances can also cause overdose.
Symptoms of an overdose include rapid heartbeat, heart
failure, and shortness of breath, unconsciousness and
When unconscious, the user is at risk of choking on
their own vomit.
Heroin can also cause unexplained sudden death due to
the user having a particular reaction to the drug, to
injecting heroin and to impurities present in the drug.
Long-term effects of injecting heroin include collapsed
veins, loss of appetite and severe constipation.
Heroin use is also associated with crime as the drug
is expensive to obtain.
Pregnant women who use heroin risk giving birth to small
babies who may be addicted to heroin and suffer withdrawal
Withdrawal usually lasts several weeks and symptoms
include aches, tremors, sweating and spasms.
These usually fade after a week, but it may take months
to regain a sense of natural well-being.
Amphetamines or speed
Amphetamines stimulate the heart beat
and may increase blood pressure.
Users say they experience feelings of increased confidence,
sociability and energy.
The effects usually kick in about half an hour after
taking the drug and last for several hours.
As the effects wear off, users may feel irritable, restless,
dizzy and anxious.
Insomnia is very common, as is depression.
Increased blood pressure can cause burst blood vessels
and may, in rare cases, lead to paralysis and coma.
Some people suffer a bad or toxic reaction to even low
doses of amphetamines.
Tolerance builds up with regular use so more of the
drug has to be taken to get the same effect.
This can lead to dependence.
Withdrawal symptoms include depression, lethargy, heart
palpitations, chills and headaches.
Excessive sweating and dehydration are common.
High doses or particular reactions to the drug can be
fatal due to the increased risk of convulsions, coma
and brain hemorrhage.
Regular, heavy use of amphetamines can cause hallucinations,
paranoia, brain damage and mental illness.
Pregnant women who regularly use amphetamines may suffer
premature birth and the drug can be passed onto babies
through breast milk.
LSD and magic mushrooms
LSD is a hallucinogenic drug which distorts
the way the mind perceives things.
Its effects are usually felt within half an hour of
use and last for up to 12 hours.
Experiences vary according to the individual so are
difficult to typify.
Users report that objects appear much brighter and may
seem to ge moving or distorted. Hearing may also be
intensified and the user's feeling of time and place
may be distorted.
Once a 'trip' has begun, it is impossible to stop or
The drug tends to exaggerate the mood a person is feeling
when they take it.
Users do not become physically dependent on LSD, but
some may experience a psychological dependence.
Some develop a tolerance of the drug and need to take
higher and higher doses, but deaths and overdose are
LSD users sometimes experience flashbacks which may
distress them. Some have long-term psychological effects,
such as schizophrenia.
Magic mushrooms also have a hallucinogenic effect which
is generally milder than that associated with LSD.
However, the physical effects are generally more pronounced,
such as incrased heart rate and blood pressure.
Side effects include nausea, vomiting and stomach pains.
Long-term effects may include flashbacks, but little
research has been done in this area.
There are reported to be no withdrawal symptoms and
no risk of physical addiction.
Cannabis has a mildly sedative effect,
which leads to decreased blood pressure, increased appetite,
feelings of relaxation, mild intoxication and increased
People who smoke the drug usually feel its effects within
minutes and they may last up to three hours.
The effect is delayed when eating or drinking the drug
so that it last longer and may be more difficult to
Cannabis may impair short-term memory and affects body
First-time users may feel confused and distressed and
anxiety, panic and suspicion are not uncommon side effects.
High doses can cause coma, but there are no records
of fatal overdose.
Heavy use can lead to confusion, aggravate existing
mental disorders and sap energy.
Some people believe cannabis can lead to hard drug use,
such as heroin, but the majority of users do not go
on to take heroin.
Long-term use of cannabis can cause lung cancer, bronchitis
and other respiratory disorders associated with smoking.
It is unclear if there is more risk of these disorders
than with tobacco. However, cannabis users tend to inhale
more deeply and the drug does contain higher doses of
People may become both physically and psychologically
addicted to cannabis.
Studies also show that regular, heavy use of the drug
may cause nerve damage and affect learning.
- Repeated self-administration of
a drug for non-medical reason.
- Prolonged use - abuser becomes
addicted (hooked), or drug dependant.
The Anti Narcotics unit, established
in 1983 within the Kenya Police, is the lead agency
in the war against Drug Trafficking. The Officers of
the Unit are knowledgeable in all aspects related to
Drugs and well equipped. It is charged with the responsibility
of enforcing Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
(Control) Act No. 4 of 1994. The Unit was established
in the year 1983.
- Controlled manufactured drugs for
medical or research use.
- Available through theft, illegal
manufacture, illegal purchases
- Have addictive qualities.
- Stimulants and depressants
This is an Act of Parliament to make
a provision with respect to the control of the possession
of, and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic
substances and cultivation of certain plants to provide
for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used
in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic
substance and related purposes.
are as follow:-
- Possession of Cannabis for personal
use - to 10 years.
- Possession of Cannabis for other
use (trade) upto 20 years.
- Possession of narcotic drugs or
- Other than cannabis for personal
use – upto 20 years plus.
- Fine of not less than one million
shillings or three times the value of drugs.
- Trafficking in narcotic drug or
psychotropic substance – fine of not less than one
million plus life imprisonment.
- Cultivation of prohibited plants
– fine Kshs.250,000/= or 3 times value of plants
or term not > 20 years.
- Permitting premises to be used
for smoking or sale of drugs etc – fine of Kshs.250,000/=
or term not exceeding 10 years.
- Money laundering – term not exceeding
It should be noted that
curbing drug trafficking and abuse requires concerted
efforts by all Kenyans and indeed the world community.
Currently, the Anti-narcotics unit is Liaising with
National Agency for Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA).