Alcohol use in Greece is traditionally diffused among its population. According to general population surveys, three out of four Greeks aged 12–64 referred to alcohol consumption during the last year and 10% reported at least one episode of alcohol abuse during the last month. Furthermore, the large majority of young people aged 13–18 reported lifetime use of alcohol and 14.8% of them reported more than three episodes of alcohol abuse during the last month. Apparently, cultural factors have influenced the pattern of alcohol consumption and the ensuing alcohol-related problems during the last two decades. The “Athena” Service is an outpatient therapeutic unit for the management of substance misusers and their families. It is a specialized abstinence-oriented service that does not administer substance substitutes; mental health professionals of the service work as a multidisciplinary team. Motivational approaches, individual cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy and family interventions of a systemic orientation are the principal therapeutic techniques applied. Adjunctive medication is prescribed whenever mild to moderate concomitant psychopathology is detected. Support measures such as provisional use of medication, use of antagonistic agents or brief hospitalization can be provided if deemed necessary. No strict time limits are applied regarding treatment duration and discharge from the program. During the period 1998–2013, a total of 1511 individuals with alcohol-related problems addressed the service. The changing pattern of substance misuse over the last fifteen years can be summarized as follows: (a) there is a gradually increasing number of women misusing substances; (b) there is an increasing proportion of young adults reporting multi-substance use with concurrent psychiatric disorders; (c) there is an increasing proportion of young adults regularly using/misusing substances; (d) there is a decreasing proportion of middle-aged individuals presenting with chronic alcohol misuse and dependence, with a long-ago onset and slow development of alcohol-related problems; and (e) the proportion of older age individuals presenting chronic alcohol misuse and dependence with concurrent severe neurological impairments is increasing. Also, detailed information on a sample of 133 individuals who addressed the service for alcohol-related problems during 2012 is given and further discussed. Finally, the need for close monitoring of dangerous alcohol consumption and changing patterns of misuse in times of socio-economic crisis, alongside with an increasing need to provide treatment, is highlighted.

Key words: Alcohol misuse, alcohol dependence treatment, outpatient service, “Athena” service.

V. Pomini, L. Mellos, T. Paparrigopoulos, J. Liappas (page 208) - Full article