Doctors to aid efforts of drug rehab centers

Doctors at state hospitals and in private practice soon will be able to issue methadone to recovering heroin addicts, helping the overburdened centers run by the state Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), Deputy Health Minister Marios Salmas said yesterday. According to a ministerial decision to be issued next month, doctors will be able to issue the heroin substitute to users who have first registered with an OKANA center, Salmas said. The minister also heralded a presidential decree that will enable local authorities, churches and charity organizations to set up drug rehabilitation centers. The announcements followed reports that some OKANA centers are in danger of shutting down due to inadequate funding. Recently dozens of suspected heroin addicts had been charged with trying to sell methadone that they had acquired from OKANA clinics in central Athens.