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Research Methodology Assignment: Adolescents Substance Abuse in South Africa



In this research methodology assignment, you are required to conduct a research and provide a literature review and research methodologies on the topic “adolescent substance abuse from single parent homes in South Africa”.


The problem of substance abuse focused in the present context of research methodology assignment is extensively severe in South Africa and everywhere else around the world. Due to the increasing accessibility of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and more, the problem of substance abuse is a growing concern in the country. Some of the notable causes of extensive substance abuse in South Africa comprises of poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities and facilities among young people, peer pressure and more. This literature review would focus on the substance abuse among young people residing with single parents. There is a possibility that the young population is prone to neglect when they have single parent mainly because of the trauma of a missing parent and the neglect of the other parent. The neglect is usually a resultant factor of the parent being busy earning a living for the family.

Research Question
The research question is. “What do we know about substance abuse among adolescents living in the homes of single parents in South Africa?”

Literature Review

Single Parent Families and Drug Use
According to Hemovich & Crano (2009), children belonging to complete family structure are not known for using any form of substances whereas the single parent families had children who were prone to the use of marijuana, amphetamines and more. The youngest group of children were more prone to its use primarily because they can be easily influenced by their peers and are extremely affected from the impact of neglect shown from their families. The young population is inclined towards the use of inhalants and they belong to the age group of 10-16. However, the older group of individuals are more opinionated and inclined towards using strong drugs such as cocaine, heroin and more because they consider the use of inhalants as kid’s drug. Furthermore, Netshiswinzhe et al. (2021), agrees and mentions that children belonging to the father only families are more likely to succumb to drugs instead of the ones belonging to mother only families.

The sex of the single parent played an important role in identifying whether or not children studying from 8th grade -12th grade was prone to the use of drugs. According to Hemovich & Crano (2009), young boys living in both father only and mother only families displayed greater risk of indulging in drugs whereas girls living in father only homes were more prone to illicit drug usage instead of being with mother only homes. One of the reasons might be the display of power from the fathers as muscular men and the desire among girls to be as strong as them. Also, the fathers are mostly a role model to the girls, which makes each of their actions more desirable for the girls in the household. There is an exceptional situation where children who grew up with troublesome household and witnessed a difficult relationship between their parents are also likely to use drugs extensively. In such cases, when the parents opt for legal separation, the fathers are more likely to be handed over the custody of the daughter with drug issues. Eventually, it can be said that substance abuse among children stems from the fragile relationship between the parents and the atmosphere created at home in some cases.

Experiences of Parenting Adolescents with Substance Use
According to Kalam & Mthembu (2018), the parenting approach of the parents also play an important role in the situation of handling children who are subjected to substance abuse. Most of the parents employ an authoritarian style of parenting where the children are constantly imposed with rules and regulation for their day to day life and activities. In such cases the child gets hostile and starts acting rebellious to defy their parents’ orders. For the parents, it is a way of maintaining discipline for the children because it ensures that they are protected from possible situations of bad influence and more. On the other hand, Tedgård, Råstam & Wirtberg (2019), mentions that when the authoritarian parentings styles fail at handling the children from substance abuse, the parents are more likely to use permissive style of parenting with them. This style of parenting allowed them to be more responsive of their needs and understand their concerns instead of blindly imposing them with orders. In such situations, children did not act rebellious and rather insisted on a proper communication with the parents.

In the words of Mathibela & Skhosana (2019), it has been found that there are situations where the child starts perceiving the behaviour of the parents in a wrong way and is more likely to succumb to wrong are of family functionality. The parental influence is one of the key aspects from preventing the children into going in the wrong direction. Often times the lack of a father figure in the family is also highlighted as one of the reasons behind the rising substance abuse among the younger demographic. When the children witness the availability of a father figure in the lives of their friends and peers, a void is created among them that prevents them from thinking rationally and take rash decisions. Similar situation occurs during the absence of a mother figure in the life of the children. The friendliness of the single parents plays an important role in preventing the occurrence of substance abuse among the children.

Also, Kalam & Mthembu (2018), mentions that the working conditions of the single parent contributes towards neglect and that curbs a child’s preference in seeking parent’s attention and instead indulge in substance abuse. The working hours of the parents contributed towards the ill-health of the child and their substance abuse. The demanding and extensive time that was invested in the workplace affected the social capital and family time of the parents. In such cases, a one-on-one communication among the child and parent helps the children from getting out of a negative environment.

The Rising Problem of Substance Abuse in Cape Town
Since the 1990s the problem of drug trafficking, consumption and the related problems had badly affected the lifestyle of multiple children and one of the affected cities in South Africa. The community residing in the city is often viewed as vulnerable that is highly prone to crime, gangsters, unemployment, overcrowding, substance abuse and poverty. It has been found that the use of crystal meth was extensively popular among the high school children of Cape Town. However, Hamdulay & Mash (2011), mentions that more than anything else the abuse of alcohol is more popular among the high school children with a prevalence rate of 27% in Cape Town and the males are more likely to be affected by it. They can be easily influenced into consuming alcohol and trying out other drugs. Also, the rural areas of South Africa are more likely to be affected by prevalence rates because the chances of young children being influenced by it stands at 43%.

From the research conducted by Ololade & Mndzebele (2017), it was found that out of 300 kids raised in the family of a single parent around 139 of them are likely to indulge in drugs consumption. However, instead of illicit drugs the chances are higher of them succumbing to alcohol abuse. Among these 139 children, around 113 were raised by a single parent and 26 of them had a step-father. It indicates that the new relationships of the single parent also had a severe impact on the substance abuse of the children.

The Role of Parenting in Substance Abuse among Children
The parenting of several parents in the cases where substance abuse is increasingly prevalent among children has a crucial role to play in assuring their well-being and good health. A parent has to be incredibly patient when the news of their child using drugs is broken to them. According to Griffin et al. (2000), fits of micro-aggression, delinquency and threatening behaviour rather encourages drug abuse among children instead of making them scared about the potential behaviour that they might witness from their parents. However, using parental monitoring and effective communication with the children would serve better purpose in trying to help them from stages of withdrawal. On the other hand, Lorence et al. (2019), there have been cases where children were deeply affected from the drug abuse of their parents and it interfered with their ability to raise their children properly. Such situations made the parents and the children more vulnerable from external influence.

Similarities and Shared Issues of the Literature
Some of the similarities that were noted in the literature of multiple researches was that the parenting practices, family structure of the children were repeatedly questioned. Even the researches containing primary data questioned the children about the family members and the working conditions of the family. Despite the research focusing entirely on the condition of South Africa, the reasons behind the occurrence of substance abuse among young children was similar in almost every country. With proper parenting technique such situations can be changed and a proper communication style can be established between the parents and the children. There were multiple researches where the surroundings of the child were deliberately questioned as well.

Significant Differences
One of the major difference that was witnessed in this situation is that the literature did not focus on societal condition or unrealistic expectations from single parents. Also, one of the articles suggested that gangsters and criminal activities happening around the area are equally responsible for the increasing drug abuse among children. While only one article focused on this concern, all the others focused on the family condition, the sex of the single parent and the drug abuse among the parents. The government or the local authorities were not questioned under any circumstances about the rising challenges for handling youth of the country. Furthermore, subjects such as peer pressure, bullying and groupism were left out as well. These situations play an equal role in promoting drug abuse among children as much as negative parenting does.

Gaps Identified in the Literature
The government’s involvement in tackling such situation was not explored. There were articles that blamed the condition of drug abuse among children upon the working hours of the parents. If the parents had to invest more time at home, then what are the financial provisions that would be provided by the government to sustain their livelihood. Especially in a developing country like South Africa where the condition of children and parents are equally fragile. The lack of government support makes it more difficult for the parents to ensure the well-being of the child. Also, the contribution of the community and NGOs has also been neglected by the researchers. The impact of criminal activities and the rising trafficking situation in South Africa has not been explored properly by the researchers.

Feasibility of the Topic
The topic is feasible for conducting a proper research upon because there are multiple countries going through a similar problem. The gaps that had been identified can be explored with the help of both primary and secondary research. The researcher can conduct thematic analysis on the subject and present viable data on the rising number of drug abuse and the impact of parenting on such initiation. The existing researches cannot be used to generalise single parenthood and the rising drug abuse. Hypothesis can be created to test with viable methods and the accessibility of numerous information sources both online and offline would enhance the resource competency of the study. With proper backing from evidence, the researcher would succeed in answering the research question without any discrepancy.

This review allowed in understanding the extent of substance abuse problem among children growing up in single parent families. From the gaps identified, it would be effective for the researcher to use secondary method and analyse the primary data that had been found in the research articles. The research objectives can be easily achieved and the gaps would be addressed. The family structure and parenting style are the internal factors that affect substance abuse among children and examining the external factors are equally important for the researcher for assuring the viability and reliability of the study.

Reference List
Griffin, K. W., Botvin, G. J., Scheier, L. M., Diaz, T., & Miller, N. L. (2000). Parenting practices as predictors of substance use, delinquency, and aggression among urban minority youth: moderating effects of family structure and gender. Psychology of addictive behaviors, 14(2), 174.

Hamdulay, A. K., & Mash, R. (2011). The prevalence of substance use and its associations amongst students attending high school in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. South African family practice, 53(1), 83-90.

Hemovich, V., & Crano, W. D. (2009). Family structure and adolescent drug use: An exploration of single-parent families. Substance use & misuse, 44(14), 2099-2113.

Kalam, A., & Mthembu, T. G. (2018). Parents' experiences of parenting an adolescent abusing substances. Social Work, 54(4), 469-480.

Lorence, B., Hidalgo, V., Pérez-Padilla, J., & Menéndez, S. (2019). The role of parenting styles on behavior problem profiles of adolescents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(15), 2767.

Mathibela, F., & Skhosana, R. (2019). Challenges faced by parents raising adolescents abusing substances: parents' voices. Social Work, 55(1), 87-107.

Netshiswinzhe, D. M., Makhado, L., Lebese, R. T., & Ramathuba, D. U. (2021). The Impact of Socialization Factors on the Prevalence of Substance Use/Abuse by Student Nurses in Limpopo College of Nurses (LCN), South Africa. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research, 10(2), 1-7.

Ololade, S., & Mndzebele, S. (2017). Factors influencing use of illicit drugs among high school learners in an informal township of Gauteng Province, South Africa. PULA: Botswana Journal of African Studies, 31(1).

Tedgård, E., Råstam, M., & Wirtberg, I. (2019). An upbringing with substance-abusing parents: Experiences of parentification and dysfunctional communication. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 36(3), 223-247.


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