Main Article Content

Narratives of resilience after a period of substance abuse and crime

JF Kelly
CL Ward


Substance abuse and criminality are critical problems in South Africa, yet little is understood about youth resilience. Through narrative analysis, this study sought to gain an understanding of resilience in eight men who have disengaged from criminality and substance abuse. Childhood difficulties, ineffective parenting, delinquent peers, and a lack of commitment to school, all contributed to involvement in risk behaviours. A desire to change, often triggered by a pivotal event, was important in turning away from risk behaviours. Other contributing factors included the negative impact of drug abuse, leadership and social skills, academic competence, access to social support and religious beliefs. Maintaining a prosocial life style was supported by giving back to others and an effective substance abuse programme.

Key Words: resilience; substance abuse; criminality; gang involvement; interviews; narrative analysis