Athens residents react to plans for supervised drug consumption areas

Athens residents react to plans for supervised drug consumption areas

Residents in the downtown Athens areas of Kypseli, Pedion tou Areos, Votanikos, Plaka, Exarchia, Kolonaki and other neighborhoods have sent a letter to the government and the municipal authority protesting plans for the creation of areas where habitual drug users will be able to safely inject narcotics under the supervision of trained staff.

“Having suffered terribly from the degradation caused by drug dealing hot spots over the past decade, we declare that we will not comply to the operation of such 'experiments' in our neighborhood ever again,” 14 citizens' groups said in their open letter, which was distributed to the media.

The Health Ministry initiative hopes to reduce the chance of overdoses and infections from dirty needles, as well as to provide habitual drug users with access to health and psychological support services, by creating supervised injection areas in major cities.

The associations argue that the plan for supervised drug consumption areas does not address the wider problem of crime stemming from the drug trade.

They also claim that by approving such a scheme, the government would be “acknowledging drug addiction as a 'right' and a 'way of life',” while also pointing to the alleged failure of methadone clinics to curb drug rampant dealing and use in parts of the city center.

The supervised areas will be run by experts from the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA), and the Athens and Thessaloniki psychiatric hospitals, who will also encourage users to enter a rehabilitation program.

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