The treatment-related goals of the current National Strategy on Illicit Substances Dependence and the Harmful Use of Alcohol and the related action plans emphasise increasing treatment accessibility and the provision of treatment for specific groups, such as migrants, women and drug users with a dual diagnosis. Measures taken in pursuit of these goals have included adding low-threshold services to treatment centres, extending the working hours of treatment centres, implementing a protocol for referring soldiers to drug treatment and introducing legislation for the provision of alternatives to incarceration.
The National Addictions Authority is responsible for the accreditation, evaluation and coordination of all programmes, actions and activities related to drug treatment, whether they are carried out by governmental services, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or the private sector. It may also provide some funding to these programmes, actions and activities.
The treatment system in Cyprus consists of specialised outpatient counselling and opioid substitution treatment (OST) centres, while inpatient treatment is provided at hospital-based residential drug treatment programmes, a therapeutic community and a residential treatment programme. Treatment programmes are offered by NGOs (non-profit), the public sector and a private party (for profit).
All counselling, outpatient and inpatient programmes use psychosocial interventions as their primary treatment tool. Most treatment units report abstinence as their main treatment goal, followed by the prevention of infectious diseases, the development of self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence, and life skills training.
OST is offered by two main specialised drug treatment service units, two hospitals linked to the main units and one private clinic. The substances currently used are buprenorphine-based medication, oxycodone and dihydrocodeine, while methadone is used only for detoxification purposes.
Around 1 300 clients were treated in Cyprus in 2017, of whom almost 850 entered the treatment system in that year. Most clients starting treatment initiated it in outpatient settings, and the majority sought treatment for cannabis use. Slightly more than half of those entering outpatient treatment were self-referred, while the Drug Law Enforcement Unit was the second most prevalent source of referral, which is mainly attributable to the implementation of the Protocol of Cooperation for the Referral of Young Offenders. Of those starting treatment in 2017, 1 in 10 was treated in an inpatient setting. The majority of inpatient treatment clients sought treatment for opioid use.
A long-term analysis of treatment-demand data from specialised clinics indicates a gradual increase in the number of cannabis treatment cases during the last decade, while the number of treatment demands due to opioid use has decreased. Since 2013, when the emergence of methamphetamine (crystal meth) users among treatment entrants was first highlighted, a growing number of clients have sought treatment for methamphetamine use, many of whom were receiving treatment for the first time. In 2017, 1 in 10 clients reported oxycodone as the primary drug for which they entered treatment.
In 2017, OST was offered to more than 200 clients, the majority of whom received buprenorphine-based medication, while almost one third received oxycodone.