The Nature of Substance Abuse Treatment in South Africa: A Social Work Perspective




Social workers, substance abuse disorders, treatment, intervention methods, South Africa


Given the chronic nature of substance use disorders, treatment requires a combination of various methods to be successful. Numerous factors contribute to the selection of a suitable treatment plan, which include the service user’s needs, the severity of the substance use disorder, the substance of choice, comorbidity and the history of treatment. Social workers as part of the multidisciplinary team are usually the first point of contact with service users undergoing treatment. In this article, we discuss social workers’ perspectives of the nature of treatment for substance use disorders in South Africa. The study is qualitative in nature and adopted an exploratory research design. The results of the study are based on an empirical investigation conducted with 20 social workers employed in various substance abuse treatment centres in South Africa. Using thematic data analysis, we present the three main themes that emerged from the study: (1) treatment for substance use disorder in South Africa; (2) services for treatment of substance use disorder rendered with regard to the Integrated Service Delivery Model; and (3) intervention methods for treatment of substance use disorders. The findings of the study revealed a need for more public treatment facilities and the application of treatment methodologies that are more applicable to the South African context. We recommend that service users be enrolled in skills development programmes as part of their treatment to allow them to lead meaningful lives in recovery.


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How to Cite

Khosa, Priscalia, and Nobuhle Ndou. 2022. “The Nature of Substance Abuse Treatment in South Africa: A Social Work Perspective”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 34:17 pages.
Received 2021-12-01
Accepted 2022-07-04
Published 2022-12-22