The Organisation Against Drugs (ΟΚΑΝΑ) was established pursuant to Law 2161/93 which was passed unanimously by the Greek Parliament, and has been operational since 1995 as a legal person that is governed by private law and reports to the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.
Its constituent instrument stipulates that OKANA shall:
- plan, promote, coordinate and implement a national policy on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts
- address the drug problem at a national level, provide valid and documented information, and raise public awareness
- establish and effectively manage prevention centres, treatment units and social and professional reintegration centres
OKANA has always endeavoured to combine the roles of national coordinator and services and programmes provider in the fields of prevention, treatment and reintegration.
To hammer out and coordinate national drug policies, OKANA works together with national (ministries, treatment programmes, local government authorities, universities etc.), European and international organisations (the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations etc.). To look into the drug problem in Greece, OKANA works closely with the National Documentation and Information Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EKTEPN)
When it comes to prevention, OKANA has liaised with local government authorities in order to create an extended network of Prevention Centres all over Greece alongside several treatment and social reintegration programmes meeting the different needs of addicted persons.
OKANA is run by a seven-member Administrative Board made up of eminent scientists and financial experts appointed by the Minister of Health and Social Solidarity whose nominee for the Chair must also be approved by the Inter-party Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs. The post of General Director is published by means of a vacancy notice. The General Director is in charge of the Organisation's services and units.
The Head of the Drug Prosecution Coordinating Body (SODN), the Chairman of the National Association of Municipal Councils (KEDE), and three renowned health, social, legal or humanities scientists also sit on the Board.
Current Board members:
President: Athanasios Theocharis
Vice-President: Athanasios Dimitriadis, Psychiatrist
Marinos Stagakis, Police Brigadier General, Director of Public Security Division /Hellenic police Headquarters
Georgios-Alexandros Bantounas, Psychologist
Gerasimos Kolaitis, Psychiatrist
Dimitris Papastergiou, Mayor of Trikala
Aikaterini Tsiona, Attorney- at-law
Diogenis Sarris, Police Lieutenant Colonel
Ioulia Nezou-Soulandrou, Psychologist
Ilias Grammatikopoulos, Psychiatrist
Ioannis Mouratoglou, Vice Mayor of Edessa
Constantinos Myriounis, Attorney at Law
General Director: Athanassia Gerostathou
OKANA provides an ever-increasing network of services in order to meet the multifaceted prevention, treatment, social and professional reintegration, and harm reduction needs in the best possible way. The National Action Plan 2011-2012 provides for the planning and implementation of OKANA's new programmes and services.
The Organisation's network of services consists in the following:
73 Prevention Centres in 50 (out of 51) Geographical Departments which are run in cooperation with the respective local government authorities.
54 Substitution Treatment Units, 4 Drug-Free Programmes for Adults, 1 Drug-Free Programme for Adolescents, 2 Multiple Intervention Programme.
- 1 Admission, Information, Assessment and Referral Service
- 26 Substitution Treatment Units in Attica (Athens and Piraeus) in cooperation with State Hospitals or other public health facilities
- 1 Drug-Free Treatment Programme for Adolescents (the Atrapos Unit for Adolescents)
- 1 Drug-Free Treatment Programme for Adults in cooperation with the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Athens (the Athena Programme)
- 12 Substitution Treatment Units in cooperation with State Hospitals
- 1 'Self-Help Promotion' Programme for Adults in cooperation with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
- 1 Drug-Free Treatment Programme for Adults – Network of Treatment Services (advisory services, GEFYRA Therapeutic Community, social awareness programme, family programme)
- 1 Substitution Treatment Unit in cooperation with the public University Hospital
- 1 Multiple Prevention Programme
- 1 Substitution Treatment Unit in cooperation with the public General Hospital
- 1 Multiple Intervention Programme
- 1 Substitution Treatment Unit in cooperation with the public Psychiatric Hospital
1 Substitution Unit in cooperation with State hospitals in each of the following Greek cities:
Larissa, Rhodes, Lamia, Agrinio, Khalkida, Livadia, Herakleion, Corfu, Preveza, Katerini, Volos, Kavala, Alexandroupoli, Komotini, Kalamata, Veroia
- 1 Social Reintegration Unit in Athens
- 2 Specialised Social and Professional Reintegration Centres in Athens and Thessaloniki
Harm Reduction/Low-Threshold Services
- 2 Admission Information and Orientation Centres in Athens and in Thessaloniki
- 1 Direct Assistance and Support Unit in Athens (medical services, social care service, needle exchange service, legal support service, first aid mobile unit)
- 1 Care Facility for drug addicts in Athens
- 1 SOS Hotline (1031)
- 1 Supervised Unit for drug users
Inter-Ministerial Coordination and Partnerships
Working together with other bodies and organisations inside and outside Greece is a for OKANA sine qua non, and a valuable input to the effort of coordinating a coherent philosophy with a strategy complying with current needs so as to avoid overlaps and to optimise resources.
As a contributor to the national coordination and planning in regard to drug demand reduction, OKANA is constantly in close cooperation with the National Coordinator Service and the co-competent following Ministries of:
- The Interior
- Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs
- Citizen Protection
- Justice, Transparency and Human Rights
- Labour and Social Security
- Culture and Tourism
In line with the national pluralistic and holistic approach towards treatment of addictions OKANA cooperates with other treatment agencies, i.e. KETHEA, 18 ANO and the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki as well as with local government authorities, universities, the Greek Documentation and Information Centre on Drugs (EKTEPN), the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI) and other mental health bodies in an effort to coordinate actions focused on prevention and on the need to deal with the drug problem but, also, to make such actions more effective.
Outside Greece, OKANA works together with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, the Dublin Group, other organisations from EU Member States for the implementation of joint European programmes, as well as with the World Health Organisation and the United Nations.