The treatment-related goals of the current National Strategy on Illicit Substances Dependence and the Harmful Use of Alcohol and the related action plans emphasise the provision of treatment for specific groups (e.g. migrants, women and drug users with a dual diagnosis) and increasing treatment accessibility. This has been done by including low-threshold services in treatment centres, extending the working hours of treatment centres, implementing a protocol for referring soldiers to drug treatment and introducing legislation for the provision of alternatives to incarceration.
The Cyprus National Addictions Authority is responsible for the accreditation, evaluation and coordination some of the funding of all programmes, actions and activities related to drug treatment carried out by governmental services and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as by the private sector.
The treatment system in Cyprus consists of specialised outpatient counselling and opioid substitution treatment (OST) centres, while inpatient treatment is provided at hospital-based residential drug treatment programmes, a therapeutic community and a residential treatment programme. The treatment programmes are offered by NGOs (non-profit), the public sector and a private party (for profit).
All counselling, outpatient and inpatient programmes use psychosocial interventions as their primary treatment tool. Most treatment units report abstinence as their main treatment goal, followed by the prevention of infectious diseases, the development of self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence, and life skills training.
OST was introduced in Cyprus in 2007 and it is offered by two main specialised drug treatment service units, two hospitals linked to the main units (as extensions) and one private clinic. The substances currently used are buprenorphine-based medication, oxycodone and dihydrocodeine, while methadone is used only for detoxification purposes.
Out of 1 298 clients treated in Cyprus in 2016, 871 clients entered the treatment system in that year. Most of those starting treatment initiated it in outpatient settings and the majority sought treatment for cannabis use. Slightly more than half of those entering outpatient treatment were self-referred, while the Drug Law Enforcement Unit was the second most prevalent source of referral, which is mainly attributable to the implementation of the Protocol of Cooperation for the Referral of Young Offenders. Only 1 out of 10 clients starting treatment in 2016 was treated in an inpatient setting, and the majority of those clients sought treatment for opioid use.
A long-term analysis of treatment-demand data from specialised clinics indicates a gradual increase in cannabis treatment cases during the last decade, while treatment demands due to opioid use have reduced. Since 2010, when the emergence of methamphetamine (crystal meth) users among treatment entrants was first highlighted, a growing number of clients have sought treatment for methamphetamine use, many of whom were receiving treatment for the first time.
In 2016, OST was offered to 229 clients, the majority of whom received buprenorphine-based medication, while almost one third received oxycodone.