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Addiction In Greece

While Greece's addiction issues may not be at the same scale as larger European countries or the US, addiction in Greece still causes serious issues. This is especially true in large cities like Athens.

Ancient Greek Drug Use

Drug use and addiction in Greece stretch back into the days of ancient history. Research into the habits of past Greeks revealed that some of the most common substances used in ancient times were Opium and Hemp. Numerous examples of Mediterranean artwork display poppies being held or given between people as gifts or ceremonial props. The flowers of the poppy plant provide Opium, which the Greeks used as a sleep aid, for recreation, in ceremony, or to assist with suicide. Even back then, they realized the deadly potential for Opium.

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Many different ancient scholars remark on the effect of Marijuana. Referred to occasionally as “The Laughing Weed,” Marijuana may be the oldest drug cultivated by humanity. The plant can be used to make rope and clothes, and that was its primary use during much of human history.

Popular Drugs And Addiction In Greece

As of 2019, the 2 primary drugs in Greece are Heroin and Marijuana. The early 2000s saw a growth in the problem of Heroin use up until 2008, when the amount of problematic use in the country peaked. The fall has been slow, with Heroin still the drug of abuse for 55% of the adults seeking help with their drug issues. Marijuana comes in second; it is the reason why 27% for adults seek help in special programs.

Dealers in Greece are lowering their prices to keep people hooked while also lowering drug quality. Overdoses linked to poorly cut drug supplies have risen. Poorer drug dependent Greeks may also run into issues with Shisha, a cheap and Crystal Meth-like drug. In the mid 2000s, the drug cost only a euro or 2 for a hit; this led to an explosion in popularity. Drug use increased in the homeless population, as did homeless pregnancies and overdoses in the homeless communities throughout Greece.

Addressing Addiction In Greece

The rise in drug use through the early 2000s resulted in harsh responses from the Greek government. While also dealing with a severe recession, the government started cutting social programs aimed at reducing addiction in the homeless population. These austerity measures, while intended to help the economy, generally end up costing more in the long term than they save in the short term. Some estimates find investments in anti-addiction programs return as much as 6 times the value of their cost. For every euro put into programs addressing issues like Heroin and Shisha use, the country avoids spending 6 more on police and healthcare costs.

While governmental austerity measures slowed down many programs aimed at curbing addiction in Greece, there are some programs still working. Intravenous drug use has led to a spike in HIV and hepatitis C throughout Greek cities, and needle exchange programs have popped up to combat that effect. Sharing needles when using intravenous drugs can quickly spread bloodborne illnesses like HIV and hepatitis C, so public programs that can help avoid those outcomes help keep people safe.

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The Police

As more social programs lose funding and go dormant, police officers often become responsible for dealing with addiction. The approach in cities like Athens focuses on relocating the homeless people struggling most with substance use. Police swept the city centers, rounded up homeless people, and started pushing them outside of the city.

When interviewed and asked about their experiences, the people displaced by police tell harrowing stories about the tactics used to deal with them. Some alleged that the police would throw people in vans, drive them completely out of the city, and dump them on the side of the highway like trash. Others, who were pushed into the outer rings of the city, report being closer to drug outlets that fuel their habits as a result of their forced relocation.

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Avoiding Drug Use Disorders

Don’t try to ignore a problem that you or a loved one may be facing. There are resources available that can help you if you reach out. It may feel easier now to try to face it on your own, but your chances of success are slim. Look for a way out of addiction with the help of a treatment provider.