The goal of the study was to explore the perceptions of social workers regarding their role in aftercare and reintegration towards substance-dependent persons. The research was about the quest to unlock the perceptions that social workers, both in the employ of the Gauteng Department of Social Development and SANCA, have about their role in aftercare and reintegration services. Hence, the research approach followed was qualitative. Due to the nature of the study, the researcher used focus group interviews for data collection. An interview schedule, with guiding questions, was prepared in advance. The research also aimed to make comparisons between the Gauteng Department of Social Development and SANCA findings. Consequently, two focus group interviews were conducted for Gauteng Department of Social Development and SANCA, respectively.
The findings from the two focus groups conducted were packaged in three sections, namely, findings from Gauteng Department of Social Development, from SANCA Eersterust and the combined data. The key findings from the Gauteng Department of Social Development were that aftercare services were viewed as motivation of clients and providing emotional support. The causes of substance abuse relapse were due to a lack of support, boredom and stigma. There was limited knowledge amongst social workers on how relevant legislation and policies link up with aftercare and reintegration services. There was a lack of manuals or guidelines on how aftercare and reintegration services should be rendered, and lastly, there was a view from social workers that the Department of Social Development should play a leading role on issues of aftercare and reintegration services. The key findings from SANCA were that aftercare and reintegration services were more about a holistic approach. The causes of substance abuse relapse were mainly about triggers and lack of social infrastructure. The stumbling blocks for effective aftercare and reintegration services were part of an external locus of control, shortage of skills development centres and inadequate services in treatment centres. Aftercare and reintegration services should include assessment, support groups for clients and families, skills development programmes and referrals. Lastly, the role of social workers when it came to aftercare and reintegration services included case management and support. The role of the social workers both from the Gauteng Department of Social Development and SANCA according to the participating social workers were as follows: resource management, therapy, empowerment, case management and support.
Recommendations were made for effective aftercare and reintegration services and for future research. The recommendations for effective aftercare and reintegration services were: (1) aftercare and reintegration services should include in their programmes sessions and activities on emotional support and motivation; (2) the holistic approach should be adopted when rendering aftercare and reintegration services to substance-dependent persons; (3) the Department of Social Development should take the lead on issues of aftercare and reintegration services and should be supported by NGOs; (4) social workers were best located and more effective as case managers for substance abuse and aftercare and reintegration services in particular; (5) specialisation of social workers in the field of substance abuse was recommended; (6) there was a need for workshops for social workers in the substance abuse field to be trained about relevant policy and legislation in the sector; (7) there was a need for a manual from the Gauteng Department of Social Development and SANCA which should sketch out the process and procedures of rendering aftercare and reintegration services to recovering substance-dependent persons.
The recommendations for future research were that this study was based on social workers from the Gauteng Department of Social Development and social workers from SANCA within the jurisdiction of the Tshwane area. It was recommended that a study be conducted in other areas of South Africa to make comparisons of the data. It was established that there were various legislation and policies which deal with issues of aftercare and reintegration services. There was however, a need to determine whether such legislation and policy were in line with the needs of the substance dependent people. Lastly, it was also recommended that there should be more scientific enquiry on issues of aftercare and reintegration services in substance-dependent persons in South Africa.