Treatment in Greece 2017

Greece Country Drug Report 2017


The treatment system

An increase in the availability of and access to targeted treatment interventions and a strong focus on the effectiveness of these interventions are among the key priorities of the Greek National Drug Action Plan 2004-16. Drug treatment in Greece is provided by public entities or corporate bodies under private law, almost all of which are fully or partially funded by the government.

The main treatment modalities available are psychosocial interventions and OST, which are delivered mainly in outpatient settings. Outpatient treatment is provided through specialised drug treatment centres and counselling centres that provide services separately for adults and adolescents and are the access points for drug treatment for an increasing proportion of drug users. With regard to specialised treatment programmes, one early intervention programme for cannabis users is integrated into a drug-free outpatient treatment unit for adolescents.

Drug treatment in Greece: settings and number treated

NBYear of data 2015.


Trends in percentage of clients entering specialised drug treatment, by primary drug in Greece

NBYear of data 2015.

Opioid substitution treatment in Greece: proportions of clients in OST by medication and trends of the total number of clients

NBYear of data 2015.

Inpatient treatment is provided by non-hospital- based residential drug treatment units, therapeutic communities and prison units through a specialised detoxification structure that offers a 21-day treatment programme. Psychosocial treatment, screening for mental health disorders, provision of mental healthcare, case management and referral to relevant medical and social services are available in a majority of the units.

OKANA is the only organisation to have legal permission to establish, operate and monitor OST programmes. The pharmaceutical substances used in OST are methadone, which was introduced in 1993, and buprenorphine, which was introduced in 2002. In 2011-12, the availability of OST was significantly expanded following a statement in the national plan against drug dependence; it has become the most frequently offered treatment option and currently is available in most Greek cities.

Treatment provision

In 2015, 13 074 people received drug treatment in Greece and 9 out of 10 treatment clients were treated in outpatient settings, of whom the majority were treated in OST programmes.

Treatment demand data indicate that most clients enter treatment as a result of primary heroin use. However, the number of treatment entries because of primary heroin use has fallen since 2012, which might be a result of reduced capacities (mainly in OST) or a decrease in new heroin users. At the same time, cannabis-related treatment entries have increased, which could be explained by multiple factors, including an increase of the number of people developing problems as a result of cannabis use, changes in the cannabis market (increased potency) and the emergence of special treatment programmes addressing the needs of cannabis users. A substantial proportion of treatment clients reported using two or more psychoactive substances, with cannabis, prescription medicines and cocaine being the most frequently reported secondary substances.

Over the period 2010-12, the number of clients treated in OST programmes almost doubled, although the number has remained stable in recent years. According to the 2015 estimates, a total of 10 082 patients received OST, with buprenorphine-based medication being the medication most frequently prescribed. No waiting time is normally expected to enter OST, except in the Attica region (Athens), where most opioid users are situated; the estimated waiting time in that area at the end of 2015 was up to four years.

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