Exploring the effects of substance abuse on the family in a selected eThekwini District.
Aim To explore the effects of substance abuse on the family in a selected EThekwini district. Background Substance abuse is a socio economic and heath problem contributing to the 40% global burden of mental illness that hinders social development and disintegrates communities. The commonly abused substances in South Africa are alcohol, cannabis and heroin. Previous studies conducted focused on various aspects of substance abuse problems ranging from personal to social reasons and implications for substance related HIV infections, but there is limited research on the effects of substance abuse on the family. Research Methodology Objectives for the study were twofold; to describe family members’ perceived effects of substance abuse on the family, and family members’ beliefs about substance abuse contributory factors. It was essential to conduct this study using a qualitative approach to obtain a deeper understanding of the experiences of families living with a substance abuser. A Coloured (mixed race) community living in the north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal was purposively sampled due to known incidence of substance abuse within the community. Purposive sampling was used to identify key informants from 5 families experiencing substance abuse who were attending a community empowerment workshop. Two families participated, a total of seven individual participants aged between 23 and 67 years of age. Ethical considerations were followed by requesting permission to do the study from the community gatekeepers and by obtaining ethical approval from the Human and Social Science Reseach Ethics Committee at UKZN. Privacy and voluntary participation were emphasised. Data collection and Analysis Data collection was done using face to face and audio recorded interviews using open ended questions that allowed participants to disclose and narrate their everyday experiences with substance abuse. Content analysis was used. Results Families reported that the acceptability of illicit drugs in their community lured family members to experiment with these out of curiosity, they learn the cultural behaviour that predispose them to abdication of responsibility resulting in low education and inaccessibility to employment. Family lives are disrupted due to poor cohesion and financial hardships. Conclusion and recommendation The greatest concern is the increasing use of these illicit drugs resulting in a global health burden without adequate rehabilitation services due to lack of funds. There is a noticeable uphill battle in reducing both the source of production of these harmful substances especially with the new market developments of the inclusion of licit chemicals in modifying illegal substances. A multi-sectoral policy is needed to eliminate the socio-political factors that predispose families to the substance abuse burden.