Nikoletta Georgala

Prevention Implemention Department OKANA

Nikoletta Georgala

21 Averof Street
GR-10433 Athens

+30 210 8898240

Profil of the Organisation

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.

Responsibility for what region?

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

Main items of content, guidelines in the context of prevention

In the mid-eighties, the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Athens started off with the first pilot prevention programmes in schools and local communities based on similar programmes in other European countries. These programmes are inspired by the philosophy of a more global approach to drug use prevention that does not focus on use and use-related risks per se nor does it seek any immediate gains. It focuses mainly on the causes of the problem, aiming to promote the overall psycho-social health of young people (boosting their self-esteem, mitigating their feelings of loneliness, developing their communication skills, building up their resistance to negative influences and their capacity to make informed decisions about their way of life) through a strictly educational process based on modern methods of active learning.
This approach was the mainstay of the first systematic effort to implement prevention programmes in Greece back in 1995, when OKANA came up with a prevention centre development programme for the whole country. Prevention Centres are run by OKANA in conjunction with local government authorities in acknowledgement of the role local communities play in prevention work. They are co-financed by OKANA and the Ministry of the Interior through the local governments budgets (central self-contained resources, KAP), and local bodies. OKANA's Prevention Department is in charge of systematic scientific surveillance and evaluation of primary prevention programmes and actions in Prevention Centres.
Prevention Centres implement prevention programmes based on the philosophy of health education and promotion in order to raise the awareness of local communities and their bodies, and to involve them in the prevention effort.

Prevention Centre programmes are addressed to:

  • Parents
  • School children and adolescents
  • Draftees
  • Sports clubs and teams
  • Professionals coming into direct contact with the problem (teachers, coaches, policemen, health professionals, priests, Army officers etc.)
  • Special population groups (ethnic Greeks returning to Greece, refugees, minority groups, prisoners etc.)
  • The greater community

Depending on their target audience, Prevention Centre interventions aim to:

  • Empower, support and train young people so that they opt for a positive attitude, and develop skills and behaviours going counter to addictive substance use
  • Provide counselling and support to families in order to strengthen the role of parents, and to improve communication
  • Raise the awareness of teachers about prevention, and strengthen their pedagogical role and their relation with their pupils
  • Keep the stakeholders informed on current treatment programmes
  • Inform, raise the awareness of and involve the greater community

Today there are 73 Prevention Centres in 50 out of 51 geographical departments (Nomos), the ultimate objective being to cover the whole of the national territory.

Experiences in the field of prevention on European level

OKANA cooperates with other organisations and networks (i.e. European Network for practical Approaches in Addiction Prevention, Euridice Network – European Network on Prevention and Drugs demand reduction at the workplace etc) from EU Member States for the implementation of joint European programmes.

Experiences in management and communication on European level

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, as well as with the World Health Organisation and the United Nations.