The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has sounded alarm over a new drug in the Coast region which they noted is turning young people into zombies.
NACADA, which conducted a month-long investigation into the use and effects of the drug, determined that the substance is not fentanyl as previously alleged.
While addressing the media on Friday, NACADA Acting CEO Prof. John Muteti, noted that 20 samples of the unknown substance revealed that the drug was a mixture of several other narcotics.
Muteti explained that the substance has the ability to make users drowsy, confused, and displaying ‘zombie-like’ stances.
From right is NACADA Board Chair Stephen mairori, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Dr. Yvonne Olando and Victor Okioma after a meeting on February 11, 2023.
“The zombie-like symptoms among drug users can be attributed to either one or a combination of the following factors; high dosage of heroin and a combination of heroin with high dosage of prescription drugs especially Diazepam and Amitriptyline,” Muteti stated.
“The symptoms are also attributed to a combination of methadone with heroin, high dosage of prescription drugs and other substances and mono use or combination of heroin and Xylazine, which is a veterinary animal tranquilisers.”
Muteti noted that the forensic tests also established the existence of heroin combined with a number of prescription drugs and animal tranquillisers.
NACADA is alarmed by the existence of Xylazine in the samples that were collected and subjected to tests.
“Xylazine is a sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant that is used in veterinary medicine to immobilize animals. It is not approved for human use in Kenya,” the NACADA statement read in part.
The authority explained that the effects of xylazine in humans can vary depending on the dose, route of administration, and individual tolerance.
However, common effects include drowsiness, sedation, muscle relaxation, hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (slow heart rate) and hypothermia (low body temperature).
Xylazine can also lead to respiratory depression (slowed or stopped breathing), coma, seizures, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction and even death.
Muteti raised concerns of a potential public health crisis in the treatment of the drug’s overdose cases, as the life-saving drug Naloxone does not effectively counteract its overdose effects.
“The scientific evidence from our mission evidently shows that with the emerging evidence of non-medical use of veterinary drugs, there is an urgent need to institute measures to regulate and control the diversion of such drugs into the illegal market,” he stated.
“This includes a strong consideration for scheduling of Xylazine and other veterinary drugs prone to abuse to avert such instances.”
NACADA acting CEO John Muteti holds a copy of the recent report on prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the country in 2023