Expansion, New Initiatives, and the Economic Crisis
"Hope in 2010 went hand in hand with the awareness that the economic crisis was deepening and fiscal austerity would spread. The increase in the number of units and the increase in the number of clients in treatment, doubled by the decrease in staff and pay cuts, indicated that the system was already overstretched and could take no more tension.
"Nonetheless, the initiatives taken and the work carried out in 2010 appeared to be bearing fruit.
" The implementation of the National Action Plan against Addictions, prepared by the National Committee for the Coordination and Planning of Drugs Responses seems feasible and, in spite of the cuts in their grants, most of the agencies started to implement it in 2011.
" The new bill of law on drugs, tabled by the Ministry of Justice, decriminalises drug use, releases dependent users from prison and institutes treatment in prison. The scientific and humanitarian importance of this decision aside, there will also be savings, since it is well-known that a user in prison costs 4 to 8 times more than a user in treatment.
" The ministerial decision to allocate all revenues from fines, commutation of sentences and asset confiscation for drug-law violations to the Ministries of Health and Justice.
" The new operating framework of the ????? substitution programme meets the conditions for being a prelude to the drafting of national guidelines for substitution treatment.
" The amendment to law 3459/2006 consolidates prevention by the Prevention Centres run by ?????/local authorities and sets out a new institutional framework, through the creation of a single set of by-laws that will include accreditation and the evaluation of their work.
" The substitution programme is expanding in order to do away with the waiting list with the creation of 40 new units in Athens and Thessaloniki.
"In the year of the strictest austerity in recent decades, in the field of drugs, as indicated by the above, we have implemented more actions and have taken more initiatives than in any other year. This is no oxymoron. It is the combination of a number of initiatives taken by the National Coordinator, the agencies’ “spite” to respond to the increased needs of the users, and the self-abnegation of their staff who work without being paid, often for long periods of time. The 2009 annual report stated that the demand reduction system in Greece has a very solid foundation. This year, this is being proven."
University Mental Health Research Institute, "2011 National Report (2010 Data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: Greece: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Lisbon, Portugal: EMCDDA, 2011), pp. xiii-ix.