“We are so much at the mercy of Chance that Chance herself… takes the place of God,” Pliny the Elder wrote 2,000 years ago. In difficult times, people’s need for stability and consolation grows, as does the need to inform them of the dangers of addiction to games of chance and to substances – legal or not. Since the start of the crisis in Greece serious efforts have been made to provide counseling and therapy; the needs, though, are great and demand more funds, people and planning.
In recent years KETHEA, the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals, has branched out from dealing with the consequences of illegal substance abuse to problems related to alcohol and gambling. The center’s ALFA program, which deals with these two addictions, took 38 people into its gambling treatment unit in 2013, 51 in 2014, 113 in 2015 and 82 in 2016. Alcohol-related treatment was provided to 25, 29, 83 and 90 people in the respective years. ALFA’s director, Antonis Parios, told Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee that requests for aid from people with gambling problems rise by 10-12 percent each year. Obviously the program’s numbers are limited by its resources.
KETHEA is the largest network providing rehabilitation and reintegration services in Greece; it is funded by the state and private donations. Its units, from Thrace to Crete, have provided assistance to people with alcohol and gambling problems but ALFA is the only dedicated program. The center now wants to expand alcohol and gambling-related services across the country.
The magnitude of the alcohol problem, not only for affected individuals but for their families, too, and the rest of society, is evident in a few statistics presented by KETHEA at a seminar in Hania, Crete, on Friday. Of the 286 people on Crete who requested assistance between 2012 and mid-2017, 40.9 percent had stable jobs and 16.8 percent worked part-time, 89.2 percent had a fixed abode, 43.4 percent were married and 15.4 percent were divorced, while 67.4 percent had children. Also, 56.3 percent said that they drove (always or often) under the influence of alcohol. In other words, most of those who sought help are those who have people who push them toward rehab; we can only guess how many others do not seek help. The slaughter on Crete’s roads is the most evident, the most “public” display of the cost of private tragedies.
Chance will not save us; only serious planning, cooperation and hard work will.