OKANA (Organization Against Drugs), established by the Greek Parliament under Law 2161/93 and operational since 1995, has become the leading organization in the fight against drugs in Greece. Its focus is on the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of people affected by drug addiction.
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OKANA’s Prevention Programs
OKANA’s prevention strategies play an important role in the fight against drug addiction. In cooperation with local authorities and other stakeholders, they have established an extensive network of prevention centers throughout Greece, providing early intervention and raising public awareness about the dangers of drug use.
OKANA’s prevention programs are diverse, targeting various groups including parents, school children, adolescents, professionals in direct contact with the problem, and special population groups. These programs aim to empower young people, support families, raise awareness among teachers, and involve the broader community in prevention efforts.
With 74 Prevention Centres in 50 out of 51 geographical departments in Greece, OKANA’s prevention network is extensive and far-reaching. This widespread presence allows the organization to address substance abuse issues at a grassroots level, making a significant impact in communities across the country.
Rehabilitation and Treatment Services
OKANA offers a range of rehabilitation services tailored to individual needs. Its treatment units are staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized care and support, incorporating both medical and psychological treatments for a holistic recovery process.
The increase in drug addiction in Greece, especially since the late seventies, required a strong response from the national health system. The establishment of OKANA and the subsequent introduction of pharmaceutical treatment for chronic heroin addicts was a crucial step in this direction.
By 2010, OKANA had expanded to 25 substitution units nationwide, serving thousands of patients, with efforts to further reduce waiting times and improve accessibility. This expansion reflects OKANA’s commitment to meeting the growing need for effective addiction treatment in Greece.
In addition to substitution treatment, OKANA offers “drug-free” treatment programs that focus on detoxification without the use of substitution medications. These programs, which began in the early 1980s, include various approaches such as outpatient, residential and special programs for different groups such as adolescents, women and those with psychiatric comorbidity.
Social Reintegration and Support
Recognizing that recovery from addiction is not just about treatment, OKANA focuses on social reintegration. Its programs are designed to provide the skills and support necessary to help individuals rebuild their lives after recovery.
OKANA’s Social Reintegration Unit, established in September 2000, plays a critical role in the holistic recovery process of individuals who have successfully detoxed from substance abuse. The unit focuses on helping these individuals reintegrate into society and the workforce, a critical phase in their journey to recovery and normalcy.
The primary goal of the Social Reintegration Unit is to provide psychosocial support to individuals who have completed a detoxification process, particularly following a substitution program. The duration of the program ranges from 12 to 24 months, depending on the specific needs of each individual.
OKANA’s Impact in Drug Harm Reduction
OKANA’s drug harm reduction efforts are critical to minimizing the health and social consequences associated with drug use. Strategies such as needle exchange programs and access to medical care are used to reduce the risks of substance abuse.
Online Education and Staff Training
The OKANA e-learning platform is a critical component of their educational initiatives, providing comprehensive courses for staff. Ongoing education and training ensures that high standards of care are maintained.
Collaboration and Community Engagement
OKANA’s work extends beyond the treatment centers, partnering with various national and international organizations to enhance their services. This collaboration keeps them at the forefront of addiction treatment and prevention methods.
OKANA’s Comprehensive Network of Services
OKANA’s network includes addiction treatment facilities, community programs, and a robust support network, making their services accessible to anyone in need throughout the Greek community.
Substitution Treatment Services for International Visitors
The Greek Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) provides comprehensive opioid substitution treatment services to both local residents and international visitors. As of January 2016, there are 59 treatment units throughout Greece. The program includes two primary medications: Methadone and Buprenorphine.
Methadone, a widely used opioid substitution medication, is available in 11 treatment units, particularly in Athens and Thessaloniki. This treatment option is designed to help individuals reduce or eliminate their opioid dependence in a controlled and medically supervised environment.
Buprenorphine is available in several cities, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and the islands of Corfu and Rhodes. This medication serves a similar purpose to methadone, but is available in a wider range of locations throughout Greece.
Application process for continued dosing
- Submitting an Application: Visitors requiring maintenance must apply through one of the two Admission Centers located in Athens and Thessaloniki. Direct arrangements with treatment units are not permitted.
- Medical Certificate Requirement: Applicants must provide a medical certificate from their home physician detailing their treatment history, current medications and dosages, and other relevant medical information.
- Certificate Authentication: The certificate must be original, current, and authenticated by an appropriate health authority or Greek embassy/consulate.
- Language Requirement: Certificates in English, German or French do not require translation. Others must be officially translated.
- Review Process: Applications will be reviewed by a special committee and the minutes will be signed by OKANA’s General Director.
- Timeframe: The review process takes approximately three days, and applicants are advised to apply at least one month prior to their planned trip to Greece.
- Duration of treatment: Continued administration is initially available for one month, with a possible extension for another four weeks upon reapplication.
Special Provisions for EU Citizens
EU citizens planning to stay permanently in Greece for opioid substitution treatment must follow special steps outlined by OKANA.
The OKANA program is a vital resource for individuals seeking opioid substitution treatment in Greece, providing structured and accessible care for both local residents and international visitors.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What types of treatment programs does OKANA offer?
OKANA offers a range of therapy programs including individual counseling, group therapy, and medically assisted treatment.
- How does OKANA help drug addicts in Greece?
They provide comprehensive support through treatment programs, social reintegration efforts and community-based initiatives.
- Can people outside of Athens access OKANA services?
Yes, OKANA has centers and programs throughout Greece, ensuring nationwide accessibility.
- What educational resources does OKANA provide for drug addiction?
Their e-learning platform and various outreach programs provide educational resources for both the public and professionals.
- How can one access OKANA’s medical referrals?
Individuals can contact OKANA through their website or helpline to be connected with medical referral services.