An analysis of psychosocial factors of psychoactive illicit substance use in a select sample in Chatsworth.
“Drug addiction has reached epidemic levels across the globe with approximately 247 million drug users worldwide” (World Drug Report, 2016). Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) (2017) uncovered that approximately 15.3 million people have been diagnosed with drug use disorders caused by the use and abuse of psychoactive illicit substances. Psychoactive illicit substances directly affect pathways in the brain, thus causing changes in the moods, behaviour, consciousness and overall thought processes of individuals. The use of these illicit substances places substantial economic, mental and health-related burdens on societies all over the world (WHO, 2004:7-10). The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use report (Dada, Burnhams, Erasmus, Parry, Bhana, Timol, & Fourie, 2017:1-2) found that illicit psychoactive substance use is an ageless social phenomenon. Substance abuse problems have been found to affect the youth and people right into their eighties (South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Report, 2017). It was against this backdrop that the current research was constructed. With the aim of investigating psychological and social factors (psychosocial) related to illicit psychoactive substance use in Chatsworth near Durban, South Africa. Data were elicited from 62 respondents who were enrolled in addiction support and therapy programs at ADF. The research took cognizance of the location (i.e., the study area) when examining the psychosocial factors related to psychoactive substance use. Three main theories were used to inform the theoretical framework of this research and in the analysis of the results; Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, the social bond theory and the social disorganisation theory. Erikson stages of psychosocial development were used understand the psychological factors, social bond theory was use to understand the social factors and lastly the social disorganisation theory was used when trying to understand the role of the location in psychoactive illicit substance use. The combinations of theories were also used to understand different dimensions of psychoactive illicit substance use. Finding from the research showed that half of the respondents (50%) believed that members of the police were involved with local drug dealers. Key psychosocial findings included; the use of illicit substances in escapism, as a stress-related coping mechanism. In addition findings showed that there was a high percentage of awareness of local dealers. Respondents claimed knowledge of other users in the community as well as awareness of viii common psychoactive substances in the community. Respondents indicated that they were influenced to use illicit substances by either family members’ or friends’ use of illicit substances. This research offers recommendations that speak to the possible use of the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as a coping strategy that could reduce negative emotional responses associated with stress. A further recommendation is for Community organisations such as youth support groups, school counsellors, the community policing forums and community social workers to work collaboratively to provide awareness workshops and support programs.