A narrative of crystal methamphetamine: a case study of a young person's experience of factors that leads to crystal methamphetamine use within a high-risk area in Cape Town
Jantjies, Janine Chernay
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Recent research has indicated a significant increase in the crystal methamphetamine abuse in the Western Cape. The study aimed to provide an understanding of the interaction of the social and historical contexts in relation to the life experiences and perceptions of a young person residing in the Cape Flats. Primarily the study aimed to explore the factors that influenced the participant to use crystal methamphetamine. It adopted a social constructionist epistemological perspective and employed Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory as the theoretical framework. The subsystems of the ecological systems theory include the individual who is influenced by the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem and the chronosystem. This was a qualitative research study that employed an intensive case study. Data was obtained through series intensive semi-structured interviews that were approximately 40 - 70 minutes in duration. The participant is a coloured female, aged 28 years from a high-risk community in the Cape Flats. Prior to the interview process, relevant permission was obtained from the participant, which allowed the interviews to be conducted and recorded. The data was then analysed using a narrative analysis. The themes that emerged from the research findings include: childhood trauma; sexual abuse during childhood; social milieu and norms; adolescent delinquency; the cycle of abuse; understanding crystal methamphetamine use and the consequences of crystal methamphetamine use. Findings with regard to the individual factors included psychological well-being, depression and negative affectivity, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideations, loneliness, past abuse of legal substances, adolescence, delinquency and childhood sexual abuse. The influential factors that emerged within the microsystem were lack of family support, dysfunctional family dynamics, childhood abandonment, uninvolved parents, several custodial parents, childhood disequilibrium, parental modelling and family drug use. Further findings within the microsystem included peer influence viz. direct persuasion of drug use, peer exposure of drugs, experimentation, delinquent behaviour, gang-related involvement and peer group acceptance. The mesosystemic findings included, lack of emotional support or attachments, social support, lack of structure as well as relocating to numerous schools and homes. Findings located in the exosystem were the availability and accessibility of drugs in all the communities in which the participant lived. Findings in the macrosystem included the social environment of the individual, including the social norms of the community and the home setting as well as the norm of violence, crime and gangsterism. The information and knowledge accumulated would optimistically contribute to addressing the paucity of qualitative literature and present knowledge to improve intervention and prevention strategies.