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CAHMA is a peer-based drug user group, run by and for people who use, or have used, illicit drugs. We are a unique service within the ACT, and operate on a peer based, user centred philosophy, which means we encourage and support people to speak on their own behalf and to participate directly in improving their lives. CAHMA was established late in the year 2000, after the closure of Canberra's previous peer-based drug user group, CIN (Canberra Injectors Network). CAHMA is, in fact, the third incarnation of this service, which originally started up in the early 1980's as a response to the then emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic. Called ACTIV (the ACT IV Drug Users League), this first peer based service operated for over fifteen years before it's demise in 1998.
CAHMA exists to promote the health and human rights of people who use, or have used, illicit drugs. We believe that people who use drugs should be treated with dignity and respect, both as human beings and as consumers of health and social services. CAHMA works to reduce the discrimination and stigma experienced by drug users.
CAHMA operates from a premises in the CIVIC Bus Interchange, at 112-116 Alinga St (Canberra City). Our office is on the first floor, just a couple of doors up from The Pancake Parlour. Although we are generally staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (mon to fri), our drop in hours are between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. (mon to fri). If you need to see a CAHMA staff member outside those hours, you will often need to make an appointment to do so. This can be done in person, or by calling us on (02) 6279 1670. Alternatively, further contact details are available on the 'Contact Us' page of this web-site.
As a peer based group we have a first-hand knowledge and understanding of the issues encountered by people who use illicit drugs. Under the 'CAHMA Services' tab above, you can read about some of the activities we do to make the most of this understanding in our efforts to make the lives of illicit drug users safer, healthier and happier. We do this through providing peer support, education, representation and advocacy. We promote improved health for drug users and, through the provision of education and information, seek to reduce harms associated with illicit and injecting drug use. By representing drug users on decision making committees, we provide a drug user perspective and voice in the development of policies and programs that impact on the lives and health of drug users.
CAHMA runs peer education workshops, for illicit and injecting drug users, that provide accurate and relevant information with the aim of reducing risky behaviours and drug related harms. Through education, we aim to empower drug users to take control over their health and enable people to make informed, positive lifestyle choices. Education workshops are run regularly and are advertised through needle and syringe programs, chemists and other drug and alcohol services. Topics for workshops include: blood borne viruses; sexual health; overdose prevention; safer injecting; drug treatments; mental health and co-morbidity (co-occuring conditions).
CAHMA provides information on Alcohol and Other Drug Services, as well as various other government and community services. We can assist in accessing the most relevant service for your needs, can provide referral to any service you may require and will advocate for you where necessary.