Experiences of coloured heroin users in Metro South area of Cape Town: A social work perspective
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Heroin usage is on the increase in the Western Cape province of South Africa owing to globalization and to increased access to the drug in this province. The goal of this study is to explore the experiences of coloured heroin users in the Metro South area of Cape Town, which stretches from Simons Town and Muizenberg to Retreat, Lavender Hill, Grassy Park, Parkwood and Wynberg. These individuals have been found to congregate in the Wynberg CBD. The overarching theoretical framework for the purpose of this research is social constructionism and symbolic interactionism, using a qualitative means of inquiry. Snowball sampling was used to recruit prospective participants and data was collected by means of in-depth interviews, with a semi structures interviewing schedule. The questions informed the subsequent themes and categories that arise from the data collection process. Snowball sampling was employed in this case, a non-probability sample, in which participants were recruited via key informants. The sample distribution included 13 participants, 10 of which were heroin users (5 female, 5 male) and the remaining 3 were key informants which contributed to triangulation of the data. In terms of the findings, participants spoke of mostly being involved in intimate relationships, which according to participants had dual benefits. For female participants intimate relationships offered a form of protection on the often dangerous streets of Wynberg and for certain males, intimate relationships offered an opportunity to fund their habit, by trading their female partners to perform sexual favors for money to acquire heroin. While the study found females were mainly involved in trading sexual favors for money, heterosexual males were also implicated in having sexual relations with homosexual men for money. Furthermore, the study found that heroin users in Wynberg represented a surrogate family, where, because of their lifestyle, they were disconnected from their own family. This family surrogate was found to be supportive, caring to a large extent, shared a living space, protective of each other and shared a common language and understanding.