A phenomenological study on parents' experiences of their adolescent's substance abuse
Adolescent substance abuse is a widely researched area both internationally and nationally. It has been known to affect many problems which are prevalent in most low socioeconomic communities such as crime, school truancy and family fragmentation. It is of particular concern in low socioeconomic communities within the Cape Flats District which continues to be plagued with social ills such as gangsterism, adolescent criminal behaviour, and high rates of school dropout. The problem of adolescent substance abuse cannot be explored in isolation, but rather, in conjunction with all other spheres which it affects such as family relationships, dynamics and functioning. Parents fulfil an important role in managing their adolescent's addiction problem. These parents often feel helpless, hopeless, guilty, and angry, and are inclined to blame themselves for their child's delinquent behaviour. In some cases spouses blame one another for their being too permissive or too stern. However, there is a dearth in research of parents' lived experiences and the ways in which they attribute meaning to their situations. The aim of this study was to explore parents' lived experiences of their adolescent's substance abuse. More specifically the study explored parents' perceptions of the ways in which one family member's substance abuse affects the dynamics and the functioning of the family. At a theoretical level, this study aligned with Bowen's Family Systems theory, as it allowed the researcher to explore the ways in which family roles, dynamics and functioning are affected by a relative's substance addiction. The current study was conducted within the qualitative methodological framework, as the aim was to gain an in-depth understanding of parent's lived experiences of managing their adolescent's substance abuse. Furthermore, this study was positioned within the phenomenological epistemological framework as it aligns well with the aims of this study, which is to acquire an understanding of parents' lived experiences of their adolescent's substance abuse.