A phenomenological study on the experiences of parents of substance users from resource-constrained contexts in the Western Cape, South Africa


Adolescent substance use continues to remain a significant problem, especially in low-income communities in South Africa. This phenomenon not only affects individuals and society, but also the parents of the user. Parents within low-income contexts may feel disregarded or ‘unseen’ in planning and service delivery initiatives, which may lead to a lack of appropriate knowledge and resources when confronted with a child who uses substances. The situation may also be amplified by challenges within resource-constrained environments. The aim of this paper is to explore the subjective experiences of parents of substance users and their access to available treatment resources in low-income settings. The study, embedded in the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory, employed a phenomenological research design. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents/guardians of substance users from various resource-constrained communities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis technique, major themes emerging from the analysis included: 1) the experiences and perceptions of a parent with a child who uses substances, and 2) access to treatment: “just make it easy”. Study findings highlight the multifaceted nature of this journey and how the experience of gaining access to treatment resources may facilitate or hinder coping, particularly in low-income contexts, which may aid in addressing structural barriers that prevent access to resources and ultimately, increase support structures that are rich in quality and accessible across various socio-economic contexts.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v9i2p84

Keywords: Access; experiences; low-income context; parents; substance use; treatment


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