Founded in 2000 by service providers participating in a European Commission funded programme to support the strengthening of Treatment and Rehabilitation services in the Caribbean, the founding members, after attending the 3rd National Harm Reduction Conference in Miami Florida USA resolved to form a Caribbean network of service providers that would embrace the spectrum of services to the drug using populations of the region.

From inception the CHRC has maintains a number of email lists on drugs related topics. First and most notable is the Caribbean Treatment and Rehabilitation list. Consisting of 75 participants the list provides a forum for service providers to share best practices and worst nightmares and all experiences in between. The CHRC also uses the list as a forum to disseminate a balanced view on drugs topics that promote the public health model to drugs demand reduction.

In 2001 the CHRC through the person of its coordinator participated in an official CARICOM research project that culminated in a report entitled "Drug Demand Reduction Needs Assessment in the Caribbean Community and Market". Working with UK NGO Drugscope, the CHRC participation assured that a harm reduction approach was recommended in both the Education and Treatment approaches. When presented to three conferences over a two-month period (the experts group consisting of members of Caribbean Drug Councils and NGO service providers 15 – 19 September 2001, the CARICOM Minsterial level Council of Human and Social Development 3 7 October and the high level Caribbean drugs control Coordination Mechanism meeting 3-5 December 2001) the report was consistently endorsed as the way forward with a strong recommendation that member states use the findings when formulating their drug demand reduction strategies. This report has placed on the policy agenda of the region the need for a public health approach to addressing the challenges of drug demand reduction.

Efforts were begun in 2001 to achieve recognition of the CHRC as the main organization of drug demand reduction NGO’s in the Caribbean. While this recognition has not yet been achieved the CHRC continues to work diligently to achieve this goal.

The secretariat of the CHRC continues to provide research assistance to its members and other regional and international bodies including the regional office of the UNDCP.


In 2002 the CHRC was invited to make two presentations to the regional Drug Demand Reduction Conference of UK Overseas’ Territories in Roadtown Tortola Jan 20 - 24. Twenty-five (25) participants from Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Monserrat and Turks and Caicos attended. Included were directors of drug councils, drug treatment professionals, law enforcement and customs officials, ministers and prison authorities. Again harm minimization strategies presented were endorsed by the gathering. In addition the CHRC was contracted to produce a CD of resource materials that reflected the need to develop a continuum of care in the provision of service to the drug using population of the Caribbean.

Currently the CHRC is assisting the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to identify Caribbean participants working the Drugs field of to attend a 3-day workshop on HIV in the Caribbean. As there are few IDU in the English speaking Caribbean there has been little policy coordination between the Drugs and HIV/AIDS sectors. It is hoped that the CHRC collaboration and participation will help to bring theses to sectors closer together.

G5P Drop In Centre.

CHRC lost the location of its drop in centre in late 2002, it having succumbed to pressure from its neighbour and a take over of the Board of Directors of the host organisation, Saint Lucia Save the Children Fund (LUSAVE).  An individual who came to work as a volunteer at the drop in centre got herself elected to the Board of LUSAVE and promptly began to build up the threshold of the Drop In centre by instituting an increasing number of rules and regulation and ending the feeding programme for the homeless. As services dwindled and homeless people were again treated with the usual distain the target population stopped using the centre. Outreach work continued for the balance of the year but was difficult with no community base of operation.  (Note an account of the G5P Drop In Centre may be found in “Caribbean Drugs” Zed Publishing London 2004


CHRC began its research project entitled “Needs Analysis for Primary Health Care among the Street Drug Using Community of the Urban Caribbean” by collecting a sample in the Gardens area of urban Castries in 2002. The study looked at issues of access and availability of health care to the street drug using populations of that area. The interview team was based at the George the 5th Drop In Centre in the Gardens. The plan is to expand the study by collecting samples from other Caribbean urban areas. This research was funded by the French Government.

2003 Partnerships Build

2003 found CHRC entering to a partnership with DrugScope UK for the implementation of a regional training programme of the Evaluation of Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder Treatment. 15 participants from 1o Caribbean countries, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman, Grenada, Guyana, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Trinidad & Tobago attended the 3 sessions, 16 day course over an eight month period. The funds for this training were accessed by DrugScope from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Government and OAS/CICAD. Sessions were held in February, May and October.


The trainings were peripatetic to enable participants to visit best practice sites in two of the three host countries Trinidad, and Cayman. Trinidad is particularly known for its vibrant NGO sector and its innovative street based interventions.


In addition to this course CHRC participated in a number of regional initiatives. Our Trinidad representative, Joe Meharris, attended a research training programme conducted by the Caribbean Epidemiological Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad, another first for an NGO focused on harm reduction. Joe is the manager of Oasis, a low threshold drop in Centre in Port of Spain Trinidad. 


Coordinator of the CHRC represented the Coalition at a research conference entitled “Building a Collaborative Research Agenda: Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean” sponsored by US NIH NIDA. CHRC was integral in assisting in the planning of the Caribbean participation sitting as an equal member of the planning committee with such power players as the CARICOM Secretariat, University of the West Indies and CAREC.  The Conference was held in Nassau in April of 2003 and gave us a opportunity to visit with CHRC member Terry Miller of BASH (Bahamas Association for Social Health)


In May CHRC was asked to participate in a meeting in Washington DC sponsored by the Demand Reduction Unit of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of Organization of American States (OAS) (OAS/CICAD) in attendance 15 Caribbean persons representing National Drug Councils, CARICOM, CAREC, the UWI and two NGOs; CHRC and a Verdun House, Barbados. Discussions centred on moving the demand reduction agenda forward in the Caribbean with the financial support of the OAS/CICAD.



CHRC continued conducting its research project entitled “Needs Analysis for Primary Health Care among the Street Drug Using Community of the Urban Caribbean” which looked at issues of access and availability of health care to the street drug using populations of the Urban Caribbean. Interviews were held with 48 crack using individuals in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The interview team was based at the Oasis Drop In Centre. This sample with be combined with the Sample collected in Castries in 2002. This was a self funded project of the CHRC.


2004 is the year the CHRC began to show evidence of the links between non injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS. As we began to run the analysis of our research project “Needs Analysis for Primary Health Care among the Street Drug Using Community of the Urban Caribbean” we started to see high rates of reported HIV+ status coupled with HIV levels of risk behaviours associated with the infection, risk behaviours that were motivated by high levels of crack use and a need to acquire money to fund the habit. Unprotected tranactional sex, both heterosexual and male homosexual was reported by over three quarters of the respondents. In addition to this, analysis of the responses to the 210 question instrument began to reveal data on crack use initiation, self reported co-occurring mental health issues, crack use and violence, criminality and incarceration rates.


In March 2004 we were invited to present our data at a number of Conferences including the NIH sponsored “A Multicultural Caribbean United against HIV/AIDS”. What was significant about this conference was the focus was on the non-English speaking Caribbean. Because the data from our research was so significant an exception was made for the CHRC coordinator to present.


2004 also led to a further expansion of the research sample by including Kingston Jamaica. The research was based at the drop in centre operated by Patricia House in New Kingston area. A sample of 50 individuals was sought and data collection was begun in October. By December 25 completed instruments were forwarded to CHRC for analysis and the balance was to be collected in the first quarter of 2005.