UNODC estimates that internationally 33 million people use opioids – prescription opioids and opiates such as opium and heroin. Two million of the users are in Africa, with East Africa having 260 000.
The leading cause of international drug-related deaths was opioid overdoses, which accounted for three in four deaths according to the World Drug report. Almost 90% of pharmaceutical opioids seized, mainly the painkiller Tramadol, were in African countries, mostly west, central and North Africa.
Furthermore, the nonmedical use of prescription medicine is becoming a serious threat to public health and law enforcement on a global scale.
Codeine addiction has been reported in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Niger and Chad. In Kenya youth are increasingly getting addicted to cough syrups with codeine and codeine-based painkillers often sold to them in nightclubs.
The worst affected are those aged 22 to 35, and are mostly found in Mandera, Mombasa and Nairobi counties, the Daily Nation reported on Tuesday.
There were 1 338 drug-related deaths in Kenya in 2016, according to a review of drug abuse data by Nation Newsplex.