According to Law No 4368/2016 and the Joint Ministerial Decision A3(c)/MS/CS 25132/4-4-2016, people without social security and vulnerable social groups, including people who inject drugs, have access to all public health services including hospitalisation and medication therapy.
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 opioid substitution treatment (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 to 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.
Inpatient treatment is provided by 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.
OST is the most frequently offered treatment option and is currently available in most Greek cities. The Organisation Against Drugs (OKANA) is the only organisation with legal permission to establish, operate and monitor OST programmes. The substances used in OST are methadone and buprenorphine.
In 2016, 12 939 people received drug treatment in Greece and 9 out of 10 treatment clients were treated in outpatient settings; the majority were treated in OST programmes.
Treatment demand data indicate that most clients enter treatment as a result of primary heroin use. Since 2012, the number of treatment entries for heroin use has decreased, although the 2016 data show stabilisation. At the same time, the proportion of cannabis-related treatment entries has increased, which could be explained by multiple factors, including an increase in 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.
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 2016 data, a total of 9 974 patients received OST, with buprenorphine-based medication prescribed most frequently. No waiting time is normally expected before entering OST, except in the Attica region (Athens), where most opioid users are situated. The estimated waiting time in this area at the end of 2016 was up to two years.