Drug Abuse

What is a drug?

A drug is a substance which when used affects the way the body or the mind works.

There are drugs that are prescribed by doctors and people take them when they are sick. Such drugs are called medicines. They include aspirins, cough syrups, malaria tablets, etc. If these medicinal drugs are used for reasons other than to treat an illness then we say they are being misused.

What is drug abuse?

Sometimes we using the right drug wrongly or using the wrong drugs. This is known as drug abuse.

Commonly abused drugs

a) Alcohol

Alcohol is a drug found in drinks such as beer, wines and other local drinks like

chang’aa, busaa, muratina and many others. Alcoholic drinks are made by

fermenting yeast in a liquid made from grains like barley. Alcohol is one of the most abused drugs.

b) Miraa

Miraa is a plant whose young shoots are sold as bundles. These young shoots are ingested by being chewed. People use this drug to stay awake for extended periods of time. Use of miraa may lead to lack of appetite, stomach irritation and breathing difficulties. When used for a long time it may lead to impotence in men (loss of sexual energy).

c) Tobacco

Tobacco leaves are the raw material for cigarettes. Some people smoke cigarettes. Others chew tobacco leaves. There are also people who grind it into a powder called snuff which they inhale. Tobacco is harmful to our health as it can cause lung cancer and heart diseases.

d) Bhang

Bhang is an illegal drug made from a plant called hemp. It is also called marijuana.

It is usually rolled like a cigarette and smoked. Sometimes it is mixed with tobacco and smoked. Smoking bhang may lead to various cancers and brain damage.

e) Mandrax

This is a drug that is sold in tablet, powder or liquid form. It can be swallowed, injected or sniffed. Mandrax makes someone have a very deep sleep or become unconscious.

It is known to have been given to people especially when travelling in buses. These people who were drugged fell into a very deep sleep and were robbed or raped. We should not take drinks and sweets from strangers as they may be drugged.

f) Cocaine

This is another powerful and dangerous illegal drug. It comes from the leaves of a plant called coca. It is very strong and is very addictive. Cocaine is sold in the form of a white powder, can be taken orally (by mouth), by sniffing or by injection using a syringe. It causes feelings of increased energy and excitement. It can lead todecreased appetite and heart attack.


- These are drugs that people breathe into their lungs. People usually sniff gum or petrol. They are put in bottles they hold close to their noses.

- They sniff the vapour through the mouth and the nose. This is also drug abuse. Inhalants can lead to brain damage and lung and liver failure.


Prescription of drugs

There are drugs that are prescribed by doctors and people take them when they are sick. Such drugs are called medicines. They include aspirins, cough syrups, malaria tablets, etc. If these medicinal drugs are used for reasons other than to treat an illness then we say they are being misused.


Life choices video


Effects of drug abuse


  • Some drugs damage important body organs leading to the organs’ failure and diseases. For example, tobacco causes lung cancer and heart disease. Alcohol damages the liver and cocaine can cause heart attack and breathing difficulties.
  • Some drugs like inhalants damage the brain leading to mental problems. Since the brain is the centre that controls all body activities, its destruction can cause many physical and mental problems.
  • Some drugs can cause loss of memory. People who use drugs have serious memory loss and may forget to do important things like switching off the stove or gas. This can lead to houses burning down.
  • Some drugs cause convulsions or fits. This can make a person to fall into a fire or fall off a building leading to injury or even death.
  • Drugs make the body of the user totally dependent on them. The user’s body cannot function normally without those drugs. This is called addiction. The person using the drugs becomes a drug addict.

  • Drugs can also lead to a coma or death. Most illegal drugs do not have instructions on what the acceptable dosages of the drugs are. Some people may take very large amounts and may fall into a coma or die.
  • Harmful effects to unborn children. Pregnant women who take drugs harm their unborn babies. Such babies may be born with physical defects or drug addiction.
  • Some drugs are introduced to the body through syringes. These syringes damage nerves of the body parts that are injected. The syringes may also introduce viruses such as HIV into the blood stream. This leads to AIDS and ultimately death.
  • Another harmful effect of drug abuse is violent behaviours. Such behaviours include wife beating and can lead to breaking of marriages.


Staying drug free

Find something of fun to do in your free time e.g join a club or a team.


Teach friends on the side effects of abusing drugs.

Always take your medicine as per the doctor’s instructions.

In this chapter we learnt about;

1. Commonly used drugs.

2. Effects of drug abuse.

3. Importance of making the right choices in life.

  • drug-1 by buffalobrewersfestival.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-2 by Daily Nation used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-3 by wikipedia.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-4 by www.leafly.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-5 by wikipedia.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-6 by huliinch.blog.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-7 by www.webmd.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • 1.3_Life_choices_1 by elimu used under CC_BY-SA
  • 1.4_Effects_of_drugs_1 by elimu used under CC_BY-SA
  • 1.5_Lessons_1 by e used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-8 by wikipedia.com used under CC_BY-SA
  • drug-9 by e-limu.org used under CC_BY-SA

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