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Caribbean Coordinator Mr. Steve Richards reports from Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Evidence of Heroin use in the Dominican Republic, not just smoking but IV use, exploding the myth that Caribbean people are afraid of needles. The main scene is in Santiago from where it has spread to surrounding districts. Fuelled by deportees who admit to initiating others to injecting. Eight of fifteen clients in the treatment centre are addicted most of whom admit to detox – cold turkey at a church based programme.
Sixteen year old reportedly injecting. Needle sharing is a feature which gives rise for further concern – the already high rate of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean that may be spread due to risk behaviour associated with illicit drug use. Females are also injecting. With a relatively low price 100 pesos (less than USD $3) it is no surprise that some users have reportedly overdosed. No medical help is readily available i.e. substitution therapy.

A major seizure occurred in June 2002 when 36K of Heroin was seized. This only helps to highlight the seriousness of the situation. With all the classic ingredients, transhipment, mode of payment, ready market and easy access these all add up to a recipe for madness.