KIAMBU, Kenya, October 7 (Reuters) – In a discreet clinic outside the Kenyan capital, a recovering heroin addict named Peter is holding the hand of his two years old daughter drinking a dose of methadone.
Peter's teeth are yellow and he looks much older than 26.
"I don't miss anything and I wish I could totally forget it," he says of the 14 years he was addicted to heroin. The treatment means that his wife gave him a second chance.
Kenya is seeing more and more addicts. The number of drug users has increased by more than 50% in the past eight years, and the majority of users inject heroin, according to the Ministry of Health.
According to the United Nations, a single dose of heroin costs about 150 Kenyan shillings ($ 1.45), about a fifth of the average price of a single dose in the United States.
Young people are from all walks of life, said David Ndegwa, health director in Kiambu County, where Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) opened a clinic 20 km north of the capital this month.
"They are the most productive members of our society," said Ndegwa.
Heroin enters the East African nation in Mombasa, a port city that is a growing hub for drugs from Afghanistan to the west, he said.
Africa had, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime from 2006 to 2016 the fastest growing number of heroin users worldwide.
The MSF Clinic is the first in Kenya to offer heroin users methadone treatment and all other necessary free services.
When they arrive for their methadone – in a plastic cup instead of an injection – users can also get psychological counseling, care for diseases such as HIV / AIDs, tuberculosis and hepatitis, clean drinking water, and treatment for infected needle wounds.
Previously, patients had to go to different clinics for each treatment.
"Nursing was fragmented," said Angela Thiong & # 39; o, MSF's drug use manager in Kenya. "This is a one stop shop."
Methadone binds to the brain's opioid receptors and eliminates cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The accepted practice is to give heroin users methadone without a deadline to stop it, experts say.
Jason, 26, started using methadone on February 28, 2018, after five years of heroin use, jailed him, made him ill, and fought with his parents.
He takes his daily dose in the MSF clinic because it is close to home and he can spend time recovering from addicts.
Now he and his friend Edwin are trying to persuade users to seek treatment in heroin caves with names like Nigeria, Colombia, and Gaza, where they bought their daily hits.
"I want them to come out of the cave and be someone who is recognized by society," said Jason. (Reporting by Maggie Fick Editor by Karishma Singh and Robert Birsel)
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