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Understanding the experiences of people recovering from drug use at the ARCA Rehabilitation Centre in Durban.

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Background: Recently there has been a significant increase in treatment demand in South Africa for heroin (an opioid), a dangerous and extremely addictive drug that remains popular among different segments of the population, including Kwa-Zulu Natal. ARCA Durban is said to be one of the few rehabilitation centres that provide the drug naltrexone, which is an effective evidence-based treatment for heroin addiction. Aim: This study aimed to understand the experiences of people recovering from drug use at ARCA Durban so as to add to literature on drug addiction and effective treatments for opioid/heroin addiction, especially in the South African context. The information generated by this study can be potentially useful for informing programmes in government run hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Method: This study followed a qualitative research design and used a multiple case study approach. Qualitative data was obtained using semi-structured interviews using a small sample of participants (n=10). The research participants were chosen using convenience sampling and were suitable for this study as they were recovering from opioid/heroin addiction, were certified by ARCA as being clean of any substances and had completed or were at the end of ARCA’s rehabilitation programme (i.e. six months +). This study was understood using the Transtheoretical Model of Stages of Change as a framework, which informed the interview questions asked in this qualitative evaluation of the ARCA programme. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: It could be suggested that ARCA Durban successfully assisted/guided all the participants in this study through the following stages of change: contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The participant’s positive experience of ARCA and the anti-craving medication naltrexone were supported by previous and current literature. The underlying factor to their successful recovery was their personal choice to change, or as literature describes as their readiness to change. Conclusion: ARCA Durban’s approach in the treatment of opioid/heroin addiction is effective and relevant in the South African context, as all participants were of all races from the most popular areas where heroin is distributed, and these participants were able to reach the stage of Maintenance without any relapses at the end of the study.


Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology.


Drug abuse--Rehabilitation--South Africa--Durban., Recovering addicts--South Africa--Durban., Rehabilitation centers--South Africa--Durban., Drug addiction--Treatment--South Africa--Durban., Theses--Clinical Psychology., Assisted Recovery Centres of Africa.