Contemporary Substance Use in Guyana: The Prison Context

Tammy Ayres, Queenela Cameron, Kristy Warren, Dylan Kerrigan


Substance use in contemporary Guyana cannot be dismantled from the historical introduction and control of substances across the British Empire, and this is true in the community as it is in prison. In a form of transhistorical repetition, some of the substances being used have changed since colonial times, but many have also stayed the same, as have the reasons for their use. This paper follows on from ‘the History of Substance Use and Control in British Guiana’ (Moss and Toner, 2020) and explores semi-structured prisoner interviews among a group of male prisoners, which shows that substance use in prison – as in the community - is often a coping mechanism, as well as a way to pass time, escape and alleviate the pains of imprisonment. In this sense substance use is an adaptive strategy to the micro level experiences of transhistorical processes, such as social control, the development of class and ethnic politics, and were central to the nexus of exploitative social and labour relationships on colonial plantations.

Full Text:



Anderson, C., 2015. After emancipation: Empires and imperial formations. In Hall, C., Draper, N., & McClelland, K. (Eds.) Emancipation and the remaking of the British imperial world. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Ayres, T.C. (2020a). Substances: The luxurious, the sublime and the harmful. In S. Hall, T. Kuldova & M. Horsley (Eds.), Crime, Harm and Consumerism (pp108-122). London: Routledge.

Ayres, T.C. (2020b). The War on Drugs and Its Invisible Collateral Damage: Environmental Harm and Climate Change. In A. Brisman and N. South (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology (pp 239-259). London: Routledge.

Ayres, T.C. (2017) Drugs, Leisure, Consumption and Harm, BSC newsletter (winter): 20-26.

Boys, A., Marsden, J. and Strang, J. (2001) Understanding Reasons for Drug Use Amongst

Young People: A Functional Perspective, Health Education Research, 16(4), 457-469.

Bramness, J.G. and von Soest, T. (2019) A longitudinal study of cannabis use increasing the use of asthma medication in young Norwegian Adults. BMC Pulmonary Medicine, 19(52): 1-7.

Courtwright, D. (2001) Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge: Mass.

Farrell, A. (1997) Addicted to Profit: Capitalism and Drugs. International Socialism, 77:

Garnett, T. (2020) Seizure of Contraband Led to Prison Riot. Guyana Chronicle, 14th July.

Griffith-Wills, M.F. (2010) Study on Alcohol and Drugs in the Young Offender Population. Guyana: NANA.

Guyana Times (2017) Drug Abuse in Indigenous Communities. 19th November.

Henry, C. (2017) Rapid Situation Assessment of Drug Use in Guyana.

Klein, A., Day, M. and Harritt, A. (2013) Caribbean Drugs. London: Zed Books.

Ministry of Public Security (2016) Guyana Drug Information Network (Guydin) 2015 Annual Report. Guyana: Crime and Social Observatory.

Paley, D. (2014) Drug War Capitalism. Edinburgh: AK Press.

Pedersen, W. and Skardhamar, T. (2010) Cannabis and crime: findings from a longitudinal study. Addiction, 105(1): 109-118. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02719.x

Taylor S, Buchanan J and Ayres TC (2016) Prohibition, privilege and the drug apartheid: The failure of drug policy reform to address the underlying fallacies of drug prohibition. Criminology and Criminal Justice 16(4): 452–469.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Tammy Ayres, Queenela Cameron, Kristy Warren, Dylan Kerrigan

We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

LIAS Working Paper Series

ISSN: 2516-4783

University Home