ESY clinics could cut rehab list

Doctors should be allowed to prescribe methadone to drug users so waiting lists for rehabilitation centers can be cleared by 2008, the head of the state Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), Constantinos Ballas, said yesterday. Such a move would involve using National Health System (ESY) facilities to dispense the methadone and make rehabilitation programs more efficient. «With old weapons we cannot fight a phenomenon that is developing continually,» Ballas told a parliamentary committee on narcotics addiction. «We are pushing for the prescription of (drug) substitutes by ESY doctors for addicts that will be deemed to be fit for inclusion in the program.» There are currently 5,400 drug users waiting to enter rehabilitation programs that offer drug substitutes such as methadone or buprenorphine, which help wean addicts off hard drugs such as heroin. The waiting period for the list is four years. Outside of Athens, there are three hospitals in Thessaloniki and seven other centers across regional Greece that prescribe heroin substitutes.

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