A qualitative exploration of the role of NGOs in the recovery support for persons with substance use disorders in a low-income African setting

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2021 Aug 17;16(1):62. doi: 10.1186/s13011-021-00400-y.


Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, most government mental health facilities are under-resourced to cater for the mental health needs of the population, including the provision of treatment and recovery support services for persons with substance use disorders (SUDs). However, in other settings, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play significant roles by complementing governments' efforts in the provision of care for vulnerable groups. Presently, no study exists that examines the contributions of NGOs in the recovery support of individuals with SUDs in the Ghanaian context. This study sets out to explore the role of NGOs in the recovery of persons with SUDs in Ghana.

Method: Using a descriptive qualitative design, eight staff (directors and senior recovery practitioners) from eight NGOs in southern Ghana were purposively selected and interviewed face-to-face using semi-structured interview guide. The interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the thematic analysis within an inductive approach.

Results: The results showed that NGOs provide three main services: treatment of drug addiction (through psychotherapy and recovery capital), re-integration of recovered individuals into society, and advocacy and awareness creation in schools and communities. These efforts are thwarted by limited qualified professionals and inadequate government support.

Conclusion: Our results underscore the need for government agencies to collaborate with NGOs involved in the recovery management of persons with SUDs and other mental disorders to complement their efforts in strategizing, designing, and implementing context-appropriate substance misuse prevention and intervention programs and policies in Ghana.

Keywords: Ghana; Mental health; Non-governmental organizations; Recovery support services; Substance use disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Organizations*
  • Poverty
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / therapy