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Arch Hellen Med, 31(Supplement 1), 2014, 19-24


Pharmacological treatment of opioid dependence: a humanely imperative and cost effective health policy choice

K. Souliotis,1,2 C. Golna,3,4 M. Geitona,1 Y. Tountas,2 M. Malliori5
1Department of Social and Educational Policy, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Peloponnese, Corinth,
2Center for Health Services Research, Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology & Medical Statistics, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens,
3Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology & Medical Statistics at Athens University Medical School, Athens,
4Hepatitis B and C Public Policy Association,
51st Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Treatment provision for opioid dependence constitutes a priority for any healthcare system, as it not only offers patients short-term management and medium to long-term recovery from dependence, but at the same time contributes to a measurable reduction in the harms caused by illicit drug use. Approaches to treatment, from the undisputed need for immediate harm reduction to maintenance treatment to recovery, have been evolving over the past 30 years, relative to the understanding of the biological basis of dependence as a medical condition. This treatment continuum, WHO stresses, needs to incorporate psychosocial support to integrate the treatment process and empower the patient to re-enter social life, with or without pharmacological maintenance treatment. Pharmacological treatment of dependence, as any other treatment method, aims to keep the dependent person alive and improve his/her quality of life, whilst supporting him/her to gradually overcome their dependence. This recovery journey presupposes that each and every opioid dependent is offered equitable access to necessary health and other related services at the point of need.

Key words: Cost effectiveness, Harm reduction, Pharmacological treatment of opioid dependence, Psychosocial support, Recovery.

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