Greece Country Drug Report 2019

Drug use and responses in prison

The most recent data concerning drug use among prisoners come from two small-scale studies. One study, conducted among male prisoners, found that, in 2012, 6 in every 10 prisoners reported a history of drug use. The other study found that, in 2014, around one third of female prisoners reported drug use before detention, and fewer than 1 in every 10 reported having used drugs during imprisonment.

The health needs of drug users in prison are complex. In 2017, one out of four prisoners with drug-related problems had been diagnosed with psychiatric comorbidity. Among drug treatment clients in the community, based on the treatment demand indicator data, more than half had been in prison during their lifetime. The Ministry of Justice is the responsible authority for the provision of health services in prisons. The Ministry of Justice runs one drug treatment programme in one of the 24 prisons operating in Greece, while the Ministry of Health provides most of the other drug-related treatment and support services in prisons through the two main Greek non-governmental organisations (NGOs) offering drug treatment in the country.

In 2017, seven treatment programmes were operating in five prisons throughout the country; five were drug-free treatment programmes and two were OST units. These programmes also offer relapse prevention and testing and treatment for infectious diseases. In addition, eight programmes implemented psychosocial support interventions in 17 prisons, meeting needs in several areas of the country and offering different kinds of interventions, such as motivation, counselling, harm reduction services and death prevention. NGOs also provide special programmes to HIV-positive prisoners.

Prisoners may be granted conditional release to attend a treatment programme outside the prison setting. Time spent in the treatment programmes counts as time served. The 2013 drug law indicates that people with drug dependency problems who are accused or convicted of drug-related or other (non-violent) offences have the right to opt for drug treatment as an alternative to imprisonment.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.