Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Regional Study Mission to KETHEA Therapeutic Community

Thessaloniki, 19-22 November   

World-wide, effective drug treatment and health services continue to fall short. The number of people suffering from drug use disorders who are receiving a comprehensive multi-disciplinary treatment,including both pharmacological and psychological approaches has remained low, at just one in six. This is not only a threat to health and well-being, but also is a challenge for security and safety of individuals, communities and families and demands an urgent response at transnational level.

With this in mind and due to the existing complexity and proficiency in treatment and rehabilitation patterns, the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries under Sub-Programme 3 "Prevention and Treatment of Addiction among Vulnerable Groups" convened a study mission for regional experts to the KETHEA Therapeutic Community(TC) in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 19-22 November 2018.

Inside the peaceful grounds at KETHEA, one of the world's most comprehensive and sophisticated treatment and rehabilitation programmes is being carried out. KETHEA is a member of WFTC (the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities) as well as EFTC (the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities).

During the 4-day study mission, 16 drug dependence treatment professionals visited KETHEA PROMETHEUS, KETHEA ITHAKI and a KETHEA Therapeutic Community (TC) within a prison. There are four TCs inside prisons across the world and the KETHEA TC in Thessaloniki is one out of the four.

During the first day of the event, the participants exchanged information about their best practices and findings on drug dependence treatment and management at the country level. Dr. Phaedon Kaloterakis, the Assistant Director of KETHEA, also pointed to the findings of KETHEA's research centre on the effectiveness and the sustainability of the TC approach as well as the positive behavioural and cognitive changes of individuals who completed at least the one-year course either in one of KETHEA communities. "Seventy-five percent of the rehabilitated individuals that have graduated from KETHEA have not used any kind of drugs five years after leaving the community", Dr. Kaloterakis said. Furthermore, Ms. Roya Soltanian, the Management Focal Point for Sub-Programme 3, clarified that the decision to organize this mission was made following the previous consultative meeting of the regional network of DDR Coordination Centres held in Tajikistan, May 2018 and based on the outstanding worldwide reputation of KETHEA. She further added this mission aims at strengthening the capacity of the regional policy makers and professionals responsible for and dealing with drug dependence treatment, regardless of the substance and method of use.

During the visit to the KETHEA ITHAKI community, the participants were hosted by community members to see different KETHEA production units, where they learn new skills in the organic farm, ceramic workshop, offset printing shop, and the carpentry workshop. The mission was evaluated as very fruitful by participants.

The representatives from I. R. Iran and the Republic of Tajikistan officially invited the regional experts to visit the relevant facilities in Iran and Tajikistan, respectively. The web story on Study Mission organized by the UNODC Regional Programme is published on the KETHEA website.

UNODC thanked the European Union for funding the event.