Substance abuse and the family: an examination of the South African policy context

SOURCE: Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Groenewald, A.Bhana
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9707
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/10853

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National policy documents are important platforms for the prioritisation of social issues which is likely to spur research into the development of evidence-based practice guidelines that are effective and cost-efficient. In relation to the impact of substance abuse on the family, carefully designed policies that magnify support for the family can help lessen the burden of substance abuse on families. Using the Family Impact Lens (FIL) framework, this paper explored how family issues in relation to substance abuse are addressed within three South African policy and strategic documents: the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse (PTSA) Act (2008), the National drug master plan (NDMP; 2013???2017) and the White paper on families in South Africa (2012). In keeping with the framework of the FIL, we evaluated whether the policies (1) mention the effects of substance abuse on the family, (2) recognise the importance of the family in the relative???s rehabilitation and (3) address the needs of family members by providing policy directives to support families who are affected by substance abuse (affected family members (AFMs)). Although all three policies recognise that families are negatively impacted by a relative???s substance abuse, the policies are overly focussed on individual approaches to deal with substance abuse and fail to adequately address the support needs of AFMs. Research on the support needs of AFMs is warranted in addition to the evaluation or development of evidence-based strategies to support AFMs. Further implications and recommendations for policy-makers, researchers and practitioners are provided in the paper.