Exploring the role of the parent in the aftercare of their adolescent children who participated in a treatment programme for substance abuse
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Substance abuse remains a debilitating social issue for many people in South Africa. It generally has a devastating effect on family life, and especially so when adolescents become dependent on substances, as it can have an adverse impact on their development. Interventions with adolescents include dealing with often complex developmental issues, dependence on family, and their support, which requires therapists to have special skills and patience to engage them in often complex treatment outcomes. The parent of a substance abusing adolescent is considered a role player in the aftercare of a substance abuse treatment programme as defined by the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 70 of 2008. The role of the parent is defined by their ability to monitor and supervise the adolescent and susceptible they are to adapt their parenting style to the suit the developmental needs of the child. The study sought to explore and describe the dynamics involved with parents and adolescents who have been through such a programme and how that can be utilised to influence their sobriety. This qualitative study, embedded in an exploratory descriptive research design, explored the role of the parent in the aftercare of their adolescent children who participated in a treatment programme for substance abuse. The population for this study included parents of adolescents who participated in a treatment programme for substance abuse and living in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch, in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Purposive sampling was utilised to access 17 participants, and focus group, group and individual interviews were conducted as the data collection methods. The research interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed according to Moustakas (1994), and nine main themes emerged. The findings of the study will inform service providers and organs of State regarding the services needed to ensure continued support for adolescents who have been abusing substances. The main themes relating to the goal of the study were understanding the term ‘aftercare’, reflections on why adolescents were abusing substances, reflecting on experiences while the adolescent was abusing substances, parents’ experiences after the adolescent returned home, expectations of adolescents after treatment, parents’ views of what the adolescent in recovery needs, parental roles and responsibilities in recovery, informal support to the adolescent and his/her parents and descriptions of social workers in aftercare.