Al­co­hol, chance and hu­man be­ings

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS KONSTANDARAS

“We are so much

at the mercy of Chance that Chance her­self… takes the place of God,” Pliny the Elder wrote 2,000 years ago. In dif­fi­cult times, peo­ple’s need for sta­bil­ity and con­so­la­tion grows, as does the need to in­form them of the dan­gers of ad­dic­tion to games of chance and to sub­stances – le­gal or not. Since the start of the cri­sis in Greece se­ri­ous ef­forts have been made to pro­vide coun­sel­ing and ther­apy; the needs, though, are great and de­mand more funds, peo­ple and plan­ning. In re­cent years KETHEA, the Ther­apy Cen­ter for De­pen­dent In­di­vid­u­als, has branched out from deal­ing with the con­se­quences of il­le­gal sub- stance abuse to prob­lems re­lated to al­co­hol and gam­bling. The cen­ter’s ALFA pro­gram, which deals with these two ad­dic­tions, took 38 peo­ple into its gam­bling treat­ment unit in 2013, 51 in 2014, 113 in 2015 and 82 in 2016. Al­co­hol-re­lated treat­ment was pro­vided to 25, 29, 83 and 90 peo­ple in the re­spec­tive years. ALFA’s di­rec­tor, An­to­nis Par­ios, told Par­lia­ment’s Eco­nomic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee that re­quests for aid from peo­ple with gam­bling prob­lems rise by 10-12 per­cent each year. Ob­vi­ously the pro­gram’s num­bers are lim­ited by its re­sources. KETHEA is the largest net­work pro­vid­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion ser­vices in Greece; it is funded by the state and pri­vate do­na­tions. Its units, from Thrace to Crete, have pro­vided as­sis­tance to peo­ple with al­co­hol and gam­bling prob­lems but ALFA is the only ded­i­cated pro­gram. The cen­ter now wants to ex­pand al­co­hol and gam­bling-re­lated ser­vices across the coun­try. The mag­ni­tude of the al­co­hol prob­lem, not only for af­fected in­di­vid­u­als but for their fam­i­lies, too, and the rest of so­ci­ety, is ev­i­dent in a few statis­tics pre­sented by KETHEA at a sem­i­nar in Ha­nia, Crete, on Fri­day. Of the 286 peo­ple on Crete who re­quested as­sis­tance be­tween 2012 and mid-2017, 40.9 per­cent had sta­ble jobs and 16.8 per­cent worked part-time, 89.2 per­cent had a fixed abode, 43.4 per­cent were mar­ried and 15.4 per­cent were di­vorced, while 67.4 per­cent had chil­dren. Also, 56.3 per­cent said that they drove (al­ways or of­ten) un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol. In other words, most of those who sought help are those who have peo­ple who push them to­ward re­hab; we can only guess how many oth­ers do not seek help. The slaugh­ter on Crete’s roads is the most ev­i­dent, the most “pub­lic” dis­play of the cost of pri­vate tragedies. Chance will not save us; only se­ri­ous plan­ning, co­op­er­a­tion and hard work will.

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