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Arch Hellen Med, 33(1), January-February 2016, 115-123


Early intervention for young users of illicit psychoactive substances who present delinquent behavior

P. Skandami, M. Vetouli, E. Kerasioti, E. Kafetzopoulos, M. Malliori
Organization against Drugs – OKANA, Athens, Greece

The relationship between use of psychoactive substances and violent behavior is complicated, costly and undeniable. This is a study of the relationship between drug use in young people and juvenile delinquency. Numerous reports associate drug use and criminality and here the current literature on adolescent and youth substance use and related delinquency is reviewed. Understanding the complexity of adolescence and recognizing the teenage tendency to experiment with new and often risky behaviors and the increased risk of delinquency of young drug users have contributed to the success of prevention and early intervention programs appropriate for this age group. Cooperation between addiction services and the criminal justice system has led to the creation of alternatives to imprisonment for young adults, which is a cost-effective option. The services for young offenders who abuse illegal substances in Greece are described, and in particular the Early Social Intervention Service for young drug users of the Greek Organization against Drugs (OKANA) provides early intervention at the stage of arrest and encourages young drug offenders to participate in a process of counseling, assessment, care and referral for treatment, in order to reduce future drug use and related criminal behavior. This new service attempts to cover the needs of the target population and the shortcomings identified in the relevant state bodies. One goal is thus to establish cooperation between the various different institutions involved in order to provide holistic and effective treatment for the young drug user. Such a service is consistent with the European Union (EU) Action Plan on Drugs 2014–2020, which emphasizes the need to consider the management of problem drug users in the system of criminal justice and in particular at the stage of arrest.

Key words: Adolescence and delinquency, Alternatives to imprisonment, Early intervention, Young drug offenders.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine