At Least 33% of Kenyan School Children Need to Take a Drug Class

by Mike Miller March 11, 2014

This is the second in a series of blogs looking at the alarming problem Kenya faces with drug use among its school children. In our last blog we discussed a government survey which reported that 33% of school children use two or more recreational drugs.

Government officials place a good deal of the blame on parents who have a very lax attitude about their kids taking drugs. How can they do that? There is a reason why we are parents and they are children. They need firm guidance. As reported in

I will be the first to acknowledge the difficulty in policing your child’s every move. Whether the children are at home, or in school or transiting between the two, it is never easy to keep tabs on what exactly they are doing and in what company.

Unfortunately, parents have come to accept a lot of grey areas in their parenting and this is where the children get loopholes to exploit.

Wouldn’t you agree that as parents, we have a big role as far as the fight against drug abuse among students? Online drug classes and online alcohol classes are great here in the USA where so many people have access to high-speed Internet. In Kenya, there needs to be more parental involvement in leading the battle. We will continue to address this issue in our next blog.

Drug Use a Problem for Kenyan School Children

by Mike Miller March 6, 2014

As all of the loyal readers of the blog, know drug use and abuse by youth is a global problem. Today we will look at the increasing problem of drugs by Kenyan school children.

The good news is there is someone who is looking to help the situation. National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse ( Nacada) chairman John Mututho has demonstrated great passion in the war against drug and substance abuse. As reported in

According to the latest countrywide survey done in 2012 by the anti-drug agency called the Rapid Assessment Drug and Substance Abuse in Kenya, one in three students reported using one or more drugs. Even in today’s drug-infused society that number is terrifying – 33%!

The survey indicates that alcohol was the most commonly abused substance, with 36.3% of students reporting a lifetime use. Miraa (is a freash leaf that is chewed and has an effect like cocaine) comes second with usage reported among 31.5% of students, cigarettes were used by 20.2%, bhang (cannabis) by 9.8%, heroin (3.1%), inhalants 2.7%, amphetamines/mandrax (2.6%) and cocaine was used by 2.2%. But even with these stark statistics, some experts warn parents are taking little or no notice of this.

This is the first in a series of blogs that will look at the Kenyan problem with drugs. If you know anything about this topic, please feel free to chime in.

“Some of us are catalysts of these behaviors. We have increasingly adopted a laissez-faire parenting method where we think our children are old enough to make the correct life changing decisions. There is a reason why we are parents and they are children. They need firm guidance,” says counselor Eunice Kiragu. In this day, however, some parents acknowledge the difficulty in policing your child’s every move. Whether the children are at home, or in school or transiting between the two, it is never easy to keep tabs on what exactly they are doing and in what company. “Parents have come to accept a lot of grey areas in their parenting… and this is where the children get loopholes to exploit,” Ms Kiragu says. Mary Wanja is a mother of three. She says she tries her best to give the best guidance to her children but she can never be sure if it is enough. “It becomes hard as a parent to monitor your children especially if they are grown up and into their teenage years. However, as a parent with two teenage boys in high school, I try my best to monitor their progress and ensure they do not end up into habits such as abusing drugs and alcohol,” she says. “I do not give them huge amounts of money. I only give what I feel is enough for them to sustain them till when I will be able to visit them in school as a way of ensuring that they do not easily access illegal substances. As parents, we have a big role as far as the fight against drug abuse among students is concerned,” she adds. Many boarding schools end up setting the amount of money a parent can leave behind as pocket money; a number of them requiring a minimum deposit of Sh1,000. Money factor Today a child can access several illicit drugs for a fraction of that amount. For instance for the price of a loaf of bread, a cheeky student can get two glasses of chang’aa. With Sh40, another can get two rolls of bhang. For Sh300, another can access a “hit” of poor quality cocaine. Is money really the issue? Nacada says a lot more than pocket money contributes to this problem including the schools’ set up and rules and regulations. Some schools are not strict enough while others are located in environments that enable drug abuse such as near bars. Loice Noo Okello, a psychiatrist, believes the problem of underage drug abuse goes deeper than school policies. “The fundamental thing is to address the psychological pressures the student is undergoing. Seldom would you find a student waking up and downing a whole bottle of alcohol just for fun. In almost all cases there is an underlying psychological issue,” she says. These may include abuse, stress over school performance or the experiencing of a traumatic life episode. “For instance, children who have undergone some form of sexual abuse are more likely to develop a drugs-related disorder,” Ms Okello says. Despite the recognition of devastating effects of drugs and alcohol on students, many schools have not instituted measures to prevent the onset of alcohol and drug consumption in schools. But homes and communities where students come from have not been supportive either. Although most schools conduct searches on opening day, most students still beat the system.

They are introduced to drugs and alcohol through many ways including peer pressure, the desire to experiment, cheap and accessible drugs and alcohol, the environment both at home and school, poor role models from parents among other factors. “We have encountered different cases of students smuggling drugs into schools. It is not something new. It does happen,” says William Ntakuka, Program Officer at SCAD, a non-profit organization working to help young people achieve their potential through reducing substance abuse. “Nowadays, students have devised many sophisticated ways to smuggle drugs into schools and even in other places. They hide them in places where neither teachers nor parents can suspect,” says Ntakuka. “Students conceal alcohol and drugs in drinks, powdered milk and even detergents. Some students mix alcohol in juices by extracting some part of the juice from the bottle and pour in the alcohol such that there is a higher percentage of alcohol in the bottle. Some drugs even pass as sweets or chewing gum, some are put in the back side of the actual toothpaste and the tube carefully sealed back into its normal shape and in sanitary towels. Some students go as far as creating a hole in bar soaps and hiding the drugs in there,” explains Ntakuka.

Highly addictive drugs such as heroine and cocaine also make their way past school authorities to the students via school staff. Investigations by The Standard on Sunday reveal that some drugs such as cocaine and bhang are stocked in margarine containers and inside torches aimed at the student market. Alcohol is also smuggled in bottles of liquid detergents. All is not, however, lost. Gidraph Wairire, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Nairobi says to curb this menace, sources of these drugs must be identified and dealt with. “They may be coming in from the students, touts, hawkers or the surrounding shop outlets,” says Wairire. Wameyo should however count himself among the lucky parents who got to know of their children’s condition in good time. Others never get a chance to talk to their children and understand what drove them to drug abuse.

Miraa Users Could Benefit from an Online Drug Course

by Mike Miller February 28, 2014

As a counselor for both in-class and online drug classes I need to be an expert on all chemical substances that people use for recreational purposes. One drug that is not at all common here, but quite common in places like Africa is miraa.

Have you ever heard of miraa? Do you know that it is estimated that 25% of Kenyan teenagers use this drug? As reported in

What is Miraa?

According to Wikipedia and NACADA Miraa is a plant whose fresh leaves and soft twigs are chewed to release a juice containing cathinone and cathine, the active chemicals that alter the mood of the abuser. Consumers also refer to miraa using less familiar names such as Khat, Veve, Muguka, Goks, Gomba, Mbachu, Mairungi, Alele, Giza or Halwa.

Chewing miraa causes serious problems to your body especially in the longer term. Miraa is a prohibited substance in some countries and in international sports. You are automatically disqualified from participating in international tournaments such as the Olympic Games and World Cup Football if detected to have used miraa.

Effects on your health

Miraa has notable effects on your health key among the-;

  • Miraa has similar but less intense effects than the stimulating effects of cocaine.
  • Upon chewing, you experience an unusual feeling of excitement and alertness. You may talk too much, lose concentration on simple tasks or even forget simple facts.
  • Chewing miraa causes rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure, symptoms that are sometimes confused with increased sexual libido or stamina.
  • When chewed continually, miraa gives you chronic constipation since it causes dehydration.
  • Using miraa to stay awake places you in danger of causing harm through accidents. When your body suddenly goes to sleep due to accumulated sleep deprivation, you can cause road traffic or factory accidents thereby inflicting damage to life and property.

Effects on your reproduction

  • The claim that chewing miraa increases your sexual libido is a myth. Instead, evidence suggests that miraa inhibits blood flow to the reproductive system.
  • Chewing miraa constricts the vessels supplying blood to the reproductive tract thereby causing inhibited urine flow, and in men, the inability to attain and sustain an erection.
  • The chemicals in miraa make your body to produce excessive amounts of sperm without you being sexually aroused.

The sperms ooze out uncontrollably, a condition known as spermatorrhoea. In extreme cases, men are forced to wear nappies or several underpants. In women, the dehydrating effect of miraa dries the lining of the reproductive tract leading to pain during sexual intercourse and blistering.

The micro-injuries can cause reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases.Chewing miraa during pregnancy decreases blood flow to uterus, disrupting flow of nutrients from your bloodstream to the unborn baby.

Edibles Could Land You in a Drug School

by Mike Miller February 26, 2014

As Colorado and its citizens deal with the ramifications of legal marijuana there is one issue that they need to address quite quickly – edible marijuana. Most people think of “pot smokers” as the drug is most-commonly ingested through smoke.

One thing that stands out in Colorado at present is the huge market for marijuana edibles. Store owners did not anticipate this craze and cannot keep their shelves stocked with marijuana-infused food products. As reported in

It is not just marijuana browning. Colorado’s retail stores legally sell everything from baked goods like cookies, brownies, cupcakes and (all varieties from whole wheat to sour dough) but all forms of candy, peanut butter, jelly, butter, condiments and even soda.

Edible marijuana products currently make up almost 50% of the sales of recreational marijuana. As I am sure you know, the drug was legalized for recreational purposes beginning on January 1st of this year.

Keeping marijuana stores supplied with edibles is not the primary concern that Coloradans need to address right away. The pressing issue is underage consumption of these edibles. Each day emergency rooms across the state see numerous cases where children, including infants, are suffering after eating marijuana-infused products.

One of the most widely abused products among children is mints.

So what is the state to do? So far they are doing nothing. I foresee huge warning labels on each product that contains marijuana – perhaps similar to the danger warnings on tobacco products.

Do you have any suggestions?

Does President Obama Need 15 Hour Drug Education Course?

by Mike Miller February 23, 2014

It has been well-documented that our current president, Barack Hussein Obama was a pot smoker. He is the latest of three straight presidents who admit using illicit drugs.

President Bill Clinton admitted to smoking marijuana, however, he insists that he did not inhale the smoke and therefore never became high. President George Bush (the son not the father) has a well-known history of drug issues, most notably an addiction to cocaine. Bush has dedicated his life to sobriety and as a result worked his way up to the most powerful position in the world. As reported in

Now back to our current president. Obama suggested that he has skepticism about lawmakers making laws that allow harsh penalties for doing something when in reality many of them have done the same thing themselves. An excellent example of this type of hypocrisy is Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla) who was busted in Washington, D.C. for purchasing cocaine from an undercover agent and received probation and is still a congressman.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have recently made changes to the sentencing disparities involved with crack cocaine. The Obama Administration is now focusing on the disparities of the number of poor kids locked up as compared to middle-class kids that are not locked up for doing the same thing.

Marijuana is currently classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule 1 substance, which the DEA considers "the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence." Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, ecstasy and LSD.

The Obama Administration has no intentions of hindering the recent marijuana laws passed in Colorado and Washington State. With this lax approach in enforcing the federal laws regarding marijuana, it’s only a matter of time before more states follow suit. Do you think we are setting a dangerous precedent? Does Obama need to take a drug class himself?

Is That Justin Bieber in Your Alcohol or Drug Class?

by Mike Miller February 18, 2014

You would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to have heard about teen heart-throb Justin Bieber’s most recent run-ins with the law. In the past two weeks police have searched Bieber’s mansion in Calabasas California searching for evidence of a felony, he has been arrested for driving under the influence, and he turned himself in to Canadian authorities looking to prosecute him on charges he beat a limo driver repeatedly over the back of the head.

Would you say that young Mr. Bieber is heading down the road to perdition? As reported in

Now it may affect his plans this Valentine’s Day!

The pop star's arraignment date for charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license is scheduled for Valentine’s Day. However, he may not be required to attend the court date.

The 19-year-old Bieber was arrested with friend and fellow 19-year-old recording artist Khalil Sharieff back in January. Next month's court appearance will allow for prosecutors to officially file charges against the Canadian crooner.

He was arrested of driving intoxicated after leaving a Miami nightclub and later drag racing with Sharieff. Bieber worsened his situation by admitted to smoking weed, drinking and taking prescription meds.

Adding a little intrigue to the situation was the police report that revealed that Bieber's intoxication level was well below the legal limit and Sharieff had no alcohol in his system.

Time will tell how all this will pan out. In the meantime I would suggest Bieber take a comprehensive 24 hour alcohol and drug class. 

Do Fewer Teens Need Drug Awareness Classes?

by Mike Miller February 13, 2014

As difficult as it may be to believe, especially if you have teenagers living at home, a recent report actually shows that fewer teens are abusing prescription medication and smoking cigarettes than they were five years ago.

According to a report released in January by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration fewer teens are smoking tobacco cigarettes and fewer are using prescription medications – especially painkillers.

In one of the milestone statistics, smoking tobacco among teens has dropped from 9.2% in 2008 to 6.6% in 2012. Of course this says nothing as to how many are smoking marijuana, which most experts has doubled in the past 10 years. As a counselor for both in-class and online drug classes I am surprised that this study showed a decrease in both teens and young adults usage of prescription painkillers. The rate for teens has dropped from 9.2% to 8.7%, while use among young adults has decreased from 12% to 9.8%.

The marijuana use increase might be best illustrated by the fact the rate for teens use of illicit drugs has remained the same at 9.5%.

How these numbers figure into depression is beyond me as depression has increased from 2008 to 2012 among teens, rising to 9.1% from 8.3%.

With respect to substance abuse treatment, more teens are in substance abuse treatment in 2012, 1.25 million, as compared to 1.19 million back in 2008.

What are your thoughts on these stats? My belief is that we still have a long road ahead to battle drug use and abuse among our youth.

Does Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend Need an Online Drug Awareness Class?

by Mike Miller February 8, 2014

I am sure you have heard enough about Justin Bieber by now. If so, you need not read any further. However, if you are like the millions of Americans who cannot get enough celebrity gossip, read on my friend.

This blog discusses the female company ion who was riding in the Lamborghini with the 19-year-old pop sensation when he was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs – marijuana and prescription medications – back in January. As reported in

Supposedly, Bieber it on the line with his “friend, Chantel Jeffries, that the 21-year-old model keep her mouth shut and not talk to the media about his arrest. He also promised she would be rewarded in the long-run if she kept the story of their wild night in Miami under wraps. Is it surprising that so far the little playboy always gets his.

Justin is promising his lady a life of fame and leisure as long as she doesn’t snitch to the press about the details of his Jan. 23 arrest. I find that a little ironic since all the little turkey seems to do these days is find ways to garner himself negative publicity.

His claim that her fame will rise by keeping her mouth shut is completely off the mark. She should strike while the iron is red-hot and spill it all now.

Does all of this bead behavior have anything to do with Bieber’s breakup with fellow teen pop sensation Selena Gomez? His life has certainly spiraled downhill since his breakup with Gomez, who so far has a clean reputation.

I would like to offer Mr. Bieber an excellent online substance abuse progrm for drugs and alcohol. Perhaps Ms. Jeffries might benefit too.

Drug Education Classes Not Enough for Philip Seymour Hoffman

by Mike Miller February 3, 2014

There is no denying that Philip Seymour Hoffman was an immensely talented actor. From the stage to the big screen, Hoffman delighted fans from of all ages enjoyed his work. Hoffman was also one of the most popular actors in the game among his colleagues.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has lost another one of its great talents to drug addiction. Hoffman, who admitted to battling heroin addiction in his youth, had been sober for more than 25 years before taking up the drug again in 2013. He entered rehab in May, 2013, and on February 2nd, his life ended due to a heroin overdose. As reported in

Investigators found roughly 50 bags of heroin and used syringes in Hoffman’sWest Village apartment. The Oscar-winning actor was found inside his New York apartment dead at the age of 46.

He was found by his friend and screenwriter David Bar Katz who checked on the actor after he failed to pick up his three children. He was last seen at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

Investigators found 50 bags of heroin along with used syringes in Hoffman's apartment along with drug paraphernalia and prescription drugs.

Hoffman was known as an actor's actor, a performer who embraced the acting craft while shirking much of the celebrity surrounding his success. His early career was marked by supporting roles – snotty student George Willis, Jr. in "Scent of a Woman"; brown-nosing assistant Brant in "The Big Lebowski"; smarmy boom operator Scotty in "Boogie Nights."

His success in "Boogie Nights," directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, served as his breakout, and from there he continued to churn out powerful performances. In "Magnolia," Hoffman shined as Phil, a nurse caring for a dying patient. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" showcased Hoffman's scene-stealing abilities alongside Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law.

Hoffman didn't look like an A-list star. Too doughy and too normal-looking were used to describe him. Those looks allowed him to slink into his roles, to bring unique, genuine touch to his characters.

By 2005, the actor's actor became a leading man. His performance in "Capote" – which detailed Truman Capote's experience penning the book "In Cold Blood" – earned Hoffman the Best Actor Academy Award and the Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.

Three additional Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations followed – for "The Master," "Doubt," and "Charlie Wilson's War."

Hoffman battled addiction as well – receiving treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in his early 20s, not long after graduating from New York University.

Hoffman said he was lucky he got sober before becoming famous and had the money to feed his addiction.

The actor said he kicked the habit for 23 years and remained sober until May 2013, when he briefly relapsed – after admitting to snorting heroin – and returned to rehab, spending 10 days in a detox program.

Beyond movies, Hoffman also shined on Broadway, receiving two Tony nominations for Best Actor in 2000 for a revival of Sam Shepard's "True West" and again in 2003 for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night."

In 2012, Hoffman starred as Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," receiving rave reviews from critics and his third Tony Award nomination as Best Leading Actor in a Play.

Hoffman's passing comes amid a flurry of new and upcoming projects. He appears in the 2014 movies "God's Pocket" and "A Most Wanted Man," along with "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" Part 1 and 2, scheduled for release in the coming years.

He was also slated to star in the Showtime series, "Happyish."

Hoffman is survived by his girlfriend, costume designer Mimi O'Donnell, their son, Cooper, 10 and two daughters, Tallulah, 7, and Willa, 5.

This is yet another tragic end for one of Hollywood’s brightest talents. I hope his death serves as a beacon for those suffering from drug addiction issues.

How High Will Broncos Fans Get During the Super Bowl?

by Mike Miller February 2, 2014

The pundits have had a field day discussing marijuana in relationship to this year’s Super Bowl. The primary reason is that these are the only two teams in the National Football League who play their home games in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes.

If you have been on another planet recently, you might not have heard that beginning last month weed is now legal in both Washington and Colorado.

This year’s epic game will pit the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks. It should be an interesting battle between the NFL’s best offense, Denver, and its best defense, Seattle.

A side bar to this is that the NFL has made mention that it would consider allowing players to use medicinal marijuana. How do you feel about this?

It has been estimated that as many as 60%, yes you read that right, of current NFL players already dose up with cannabis on a regular basis. It is quite surprising that few are busted for the drug. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was caught and has been suspended indefinitely since December.

So, how about the fans? How of many of them plan to get high on Super Bowl Sunday? According to a survey in the Denver Post, not many. According to the survey, only 2% of Broncos fans plan to smoke pot during the game, with another six percent both drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. A whopping 56% claimed they will stay sober.

Those stats sound like funny math to me. What do you think?