Cyprus Country Drug Report 2019

Harm reduction

In Cyprus, National Strategy on Illicit Substances Dependence and the Harmful Use of Alcohol for 2013-20 endorses harm reduction as one of its pillars, and the objectives include ensuring the implementation of harm reduction practices within the health system; promoting safer nightlife activities; reducing driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and reinforcing harm reduction practices within the treatment continuum. The new Action Plan 2017-20 includes, among other actions, the referral of people in contact with emergency services after an overdose to treatment, the introduction of take-home naloxone and the training of treatment personnel.

The Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) coordinates the development of strategies to reduce drug-related harm, in close cooperation with the various departments of the Ministry of Health, such as the National Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Programme and mental health services.

Harm reduction interventions

A low-threshold drop-in centre established in the capital city, Nicosia, in 2014 offers beverages and snacks, condoms, overdose prevention education, counselling for risk reduction and safer sex education to people who use drugs. The centre operates an outreach team as well as a syringe exchange programme. To increase anonymous access, syringe dispensing machines were installed in the country in 2017. In Cyprus, syringes are also available for purchase in all pharmacies. The majority of PWID taking part in a bio-behavioural survey in 2016-18 reported obtaining injecting equipment from pharmacies.

Other harm reduction measures in Cyprus include (i) testing for infectious diseases, vaccinations and referral for treatment; (ii) disseminating information and providing education; and (iii) providing medical care whenever necessary. These services are provided by all governmental (and some non-governmental) treatment programmes.

In 2014, the NAAC published the report Preventing the spread of infectious diseases in Cyprus, which includes specific recommendations for harm reduction interventions. In addition, a new national hepatitis strategy was in preparation in 2018. The NAAC, with the aim of reducing the risk of the transmission of infectious diseases, has promoted the implementation of community-based rapid screening by the treatment programmes, and the current action plan envisages that programme staff will receive relevant training. Following an initiative by the NAAC to improve the response to opioid-related deaths in Cyprus, a nasal naloxone spray was approved by the Ministry of Health in August 2018, and the introduction of a take-home naloxone programme is in preparation.

Availablity of selected harm reduction responses in Europe
Country Needle and syringe programmes Take-home naloxone programmes Drug consumption rooms Heroin-assisted treatment
Austria Yes No No No
Belgium Yes No Yes No
Bulgaria Yes No No No
Croatia Yes No No No
Cyprus Yes No No No
Czechia Yes No No No
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes Yes No No
Finland Yes No No No
France Yes Yes Yes No
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes
Greece Yes No No No
Hungary Yes No No No
Ireland Yes Yes No No
Italy Yes Yes No No
Latvia Yes No No No
Lithuania Yes Yes No No
Luxembourg Yes No Yes Yes
Malta Yes No No No
Netherlands Yes No Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes No
Poland Yes No No No
Portugal Yes No No No
Romania Yes No No No
Slovakia Yes No No No
Slovenia Yes No No No
Spain Yes Yes Yes No
Sweden Yes No No No
Turkey No No No No
United Kingdom Yes Yes No Yes

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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.