NEWS

PM visits Greece’s first supervised drugs use site

PM visits Greece’s first supervised drugs use site

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Greece’s first Supervised Injection Site (SIS) at the Organisation Against Drugs (ΟΚΑΝΑ) in Athens on Monday.

Government sources detailed what the new facility has to offer to people who are addicted to drugs, including 12 specially designed booths for the use of injectable or inhalable narcotics already acquired by the user, a clinic, which can handle overdosing incidents, accommodation, counseling and psychological support, and access to detox programs.

The site has been nicknamed ‘Steki 46’ (Hangout 46) by those who use it, who also have access to food and clothes, and are provided with syringes, condoms, and Covid-19 self-diagnostic tests, among other supplies.

This initiative “that we have taken is rather bold,” said Mitsotakis, and he added that he was “really impressed by the quality of the space and the willingness of all employees to support users.” He chatted with both former and current drug addicts and staff at the center.

The Greek Prime Minister had committed to the creation of an SIS during a meeting he had held with former drug addicts in late 2018, prior to the 2019 summer national elections, noted government sources.

Setting up the first SIS in Athens is the result of specific legislation and ministerial decisions on its operating conditions, noted Deputy Health Minister for Mental Health Zoe Rapti. It is a place that “actually helps to reduce the damage caused by drugs,” she added, and also “helps addicts get psychosocial support, and get into a detox program in collaboration with OKANA experts.” It is a place that will save lives, she stated.

Mitsotakis noted that he attaches great significance to what OKANA President Thanassis Theocharis told him, “that they will soon be able to control the quality of drugs, so that users know that what is being procured is not mixed with other substances. And, of course, it is not just a space for using drugs, there is total, broad support, so that we can deal with the issue comprehensively.”

“It is very important that the issue of addiction is supported by political leaders and the prime minister of the country,” Theocharis added, noting that the operation rules were very clear. [AMNA]