The draft Greek National Strategy on Drugs (2014-20) names drug prevention as one of its priorities. Drug prevention in Greece is mostly implemented by a nationwide network of 75 Prevention Centres for Addiction and Psychosocial Health Promotion, which were established within the framework of cooperation between the Organisation Against Drugs (ΟΚΑΝA) and local authorities and stakeholders. Their activities include the prevention of all kinds of dependence and the promotion of psychosocial health. The Ministry of Education, other governmental and non-governmental drug services and health services are also active in the field of prevention. OKANA and the Ministry of Education have a memorandum of understanding to promote school-based prevention interventions and anti-bullying policies. There has been a shift in focus from (illicit) drugs to other substances, types of addiction and violent behaviour.
Prevention interventions encompass a wide range of approaches, which are complementary. Environmental and universal strategies target entire populations, selective prevention targets vulnerable groups that may be at greater risk of developing substance use problems and indicated prevention focuses on at-risk individuals.
In Greece, environmental prevention activities focus on regulating access to alcohol and tobacco. In 2016, a new law was enacted bringing in stricter measures on tobacco products, but its implementation has been a challenge.
Particular emphasis is placed on prevention interventions in school settings. Universal prevention in primary and secondary education takes the form of programme-based interventions in the context of the health promotion programmes implemented by the Ministry of Education and programmes carried out in close cooperation with interventions designed and delivered by the network of Prevention Centres. The development of personal and social skills is a key feature of these activities, in both primary and secondary education. Furthermore, the Prevention Centres and other agencies provide training seminars and supervision sessions to help teachers implement health promotion programmes.
Families are another core target group for drug prevention. Family prevention includes information events and training programmes (parents’ groups). Prevention Centres also provide information and raise public awareness about drugs and drug dependence, and prevention professionals target other members of the local community, such as volunteers, the army, public security forces, health professionals and youth mediators. They have expanded to include all kinds of addiction and the promotion of psychosocial health, and have been renamed Prevention Centres for Addiction and Psychosocial Health Promotion.
In recent years, a number of selective prevention interventions targeting at-risk groups and individuals have been developed. The Icarus Prevention Unit (KETHEA) designs and implements interventions aimed at young offenders, young people who experiment with drugs, immigrants, returning migrants, refugees, disabled children, children from dysfunctional environments, at-risk families and children living in care institutions. In 2010, KETHEA opened a community intervention centre in Athens to work with young people from socially excluded families who exhibited delinquent behaviour and had drug use problems. Some Prevention Centres and agencies implement activities targeting young people who are experimenting with drugs or who have psychosocial problems, come from single-parent families or families from culturally diverse groups, or are immigrants.
Indicated prevention activities are mainly individual or group counselling and referrals to other specialised services for students with psychological, emotional and social problems or special learning needs.