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Harm reduction overview for Greece

Map of Greece

1. National context

Low-threshold services in Greece implement a broad range of interventions in the area of harm reduction and prevention and care for infectious diseases, including overdose prevention. Following an outbreak of HIV infection among PWID in Athens in 2011, treatment and harm reduction service provision has been scaled up, mainly with European funds under the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA).

In 2013 sterile injecting equipment was provided at 19 different sites including seven fixed locations and 12 sites serviced by teams of outreach workers and mobile units. The main development in 2012–13 was the expansion of specific harm reduction programmes beyond the Greater Athens area, with several new low-threshold programmes being opened in Thessaloniki. Approximately 430 000 syringes were distributed at needle and syringe exchange/distribution sites in 2013, which is almost seven times as many as in the year preceding the outbreak (61 500 in 2010). In addition to injecting equipment, low-threshold facilities also provided condoms, printed health education and information materials and training in safe use and first aid to drug users. It is estimated that in 2013 needle and syringe programmes served more than 7 100 PWID, which is six times more than in 2010 (1 080).

The street outreach programmes provide printed information about the services available to drug users, how to prevent infectious diseases and safer use practices; they also distribute clean syringes and condoms. In late 2011 OKANA replaced high dead-space syringes exchanged/distributed through the programmes with low dead-space syringes, to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Furthermore, in 2011 the EXELIXIS low-threshold programme (ΚΕTHΕΑ) developed a ‘support at home’ service. Under this programme, trained workers provide psychosocial support to drug users and their social networks at the place where they live (home, hospital, squats, etc.) at the users’ request. Staff of the ΟΚΑΝΑ street work programme also support clients in prisons and hospitals. A low-threshold programme and two NGOs offer infectious diseases testing; and vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses is available free of cost at two low-threshold facilities in Athens.

In October 2013 a supervised drug consumption room was opened as a pilot project at OKANA premises targeting people who inject drugs in the street. Due to delays in establishing a valid legal basis, its operations had to be suspended in July 2014.

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2. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related infectious diseases

Needle and syringe programmes Country  data
Availability of  NSP programmes  Extensive
% NSP availability at NUTS3  4 %
Drug use equipment distributed at specialised drug agencies (standard prevention material)
availability of alcohol pads  Yes
availability of dry wipes  No
availability of containers  Yes
availability of water  Yes
availability of condoms  Yes
availability of foil  No

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Testing, vaccination and treatment of infections Country  data
Availability of Hepatitis C testing in the community  Extensive
Availability of universal hepatitis B immunization programme  Yes
Hepatitis B vaccination programme specific for high risk groups  No
ARV treatment of HIV infection Full

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Health promotion responses Country  data
Availability of individual counselling programmes  Extensive
Availability of programmes for practical advice and training on 'safer use/safer injecting'  Extensive
Involvement of peer educators in the response to infectious diseases prevention  Yes

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.

Drug Treatment

See the country specific treatment profile.

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3. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related deaths

Availability of drug-related death responses in the community Country  data
Availability of overdose information materials  Extensive
Availability of individual overdose risk assessment (provided by trained drugs or health workers)  Extensive
Availability of overdose response training  Extensive

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Availability of drug consumption rooms Country  data
Number of facilities n.av.
Number of cities n.av.
Number of consumptions per year n.av.

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2011.
N.Av. stands for ‘The intervention is not available in the country’.

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4. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related harms in recreational settings

Provision of specific responses implemented in night clubs and festivals Free, accessible, cold water Immediate First Aid ‘Chill out’ rooms Information material Outreach work Amnesty bins
Night clubs  Extensive  Does not exist  Does not exist  Limited  Does not exist  Does not exist
Festivals  Does not exist  Does not exist  Does not exist  Limited  Does not exist  Does not exist

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2011.
Provision expert rating scale:

  • Full – in nearly all night clubs/festivals.
  • Extensive – a majority of night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not nearly all of them).
  • Limited – more than a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not a majority of them).
  • Rare – just a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention.

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5. References and links

Related EMCDDA resources

 

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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 02 June 2015