Rendering services to people with substance use disorders: perceptions of Social Workers in Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga Province

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Substance use disorders are a global challenge with detrimental effects on health, wealth and security of nations. Historically social workers have been and continue to be among the primary service providers to individuals who experience Substance Use Disorders (hereafter referred as SUDs). Although substance use disorders are a prevailing treatment issue, addiction remains under-identified as a primary practice area for clinical social workers. Since social workers play a crucial role in the identification and treatment of people with substance use disorders, their perceptions of these patients have consequences on the nature and quality of services delivered to them. The researcher’s interest in the study was informed by the ever-escalating increase of people with SUDs in South Africa. Over the past five years, according to statistics as reported by the South Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use, the Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga Province has seen an extensive spread of SUDs. For this reason, this study adopted the qualitative approach by employing the multiple case study design to execute this research. The purpose of the study was exploratory and descriptive in nature. The population consisted of social workers who specialize (or work) on substance/ addiction management from two Non-Governmental Organizations (hereafter referred as NGOs) namely; South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) Lowveld and National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of offenders (NICRO). The study also included social workers (practicing in the substance/ addiction management) from the Department of Social Development (hereafter referred as DSD) who work with SUDs, 4 (four) social workers in the focus group from DSD. Since Social workers from SANCA (6) and NICRO (7) were numerical minority, they were included in two separate focus group respectively. The study made use of focus group discussions for both NGOs and the DSD after participants (Only from Ehlanzeni district) have been identified through the purposive sampling technique. The researcher used thematic analysis for analyzing data.
A full research dissertation presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Social Work Research in the Department of Social Work at the School of Human and Community Development, Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2020
Addiction management, Substance use disorder, Substance use disorder treatment, Social worker