Substance abuse amongst young people in Mafikeng, North West province
Gadihele, Seamogo Delcia
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One of the challenges facing South Africa today is substance abuse amongst young people. This study focuses on substance abuse amongst the youth in Mafikeng, North West Province. The primary objective of this study is to conduct research on substance abuse amongst the youth and how Lifeline renders assistance to them in Mafikeng. The study specifically focuses on programmes or services that the organization provides for them. In addition, it also looks at the major problems encountered by Lifeline in addressing the problem of substance abuse amongst the youth in Mafikeng. Regarding the methodology aspect of the study, qualitative research techniques were utilized. Since the primary data collection technique was an in-depth interview using an interview schedule of key institutional respondents at the Mafikeng based Lifeline. In line with qualitative methods, the research involved the nonnumerical evaluation and interpretation of observations aimed at identifying meanings and patterns of relationships. In sociological terms, the emphasis in qualitative research is basically on norms of behaviour. The principal findings of the study are that, the main causes of substance abuse amongst the youth that frequent Lifeline in Mafikeng includes family dysfunction, lack of employment opportunities for young people, poverty, and peer pressure, lack of recreational facilities, curiosity, tolerance, low-self esteem, changed motives and hereditary tendencies. In as far as gender is concerned there was a comparatively higher prevalence of males than females frequenting the organization. This is compatible with crime and deviance statistics which indicate a higher rate of crime and other forms of deviant behaviour amongst males. Additional findings included the fact that substance abusers are provided with counselling and a referral service for abusers that require treatment. Lifeline also conducts substance awareness campaigns involving workshops organised by the Departments of Health and Social Development. The aim of these campaigns is to render assistance not only to substance abusers but also to their families. In many instances school teachers identify and detect drug abusers and refer them to Lifeline. Regarding the major problems encountered by Lifeline, these include lack of funds and training of staff members. In conclusion and as evidenced by the literature review and responses from the respondents at the Mafikeng based Lifeline, a common pattern emerges with regard to the causes of substance abuse, gender differentials and treatment methods. Based on the literature review and information elicited from the in-depth interviews the major causes included peer pressure, lack of parental guidance and boredom. The major recommendations are that to minimize substance abuse amongst the youth who constitute an important sector of any given society, particularly as future leaders, the government, family and non-governmental organizations can play a critical and pro-active role in addressing this problem. The government must intervene and assist organizations like Lifeline with funds and also increase substance abuse campaigns in order for the youth to stay away from abusing substances. The government should also fund programmes designed to educate the youth about the dangers of substance abuse. Parents can also play a vital role in preventing substance abuse amongst their children by teaching them about the negative consequences of abusing alcohol and drugs. In addition, more rehabilitation centres for treatment purposes should be constructed.
- Humanities