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A person’s attachment styles can sometimes impact their relationships, mental health, and other areas of life, but what about addiction? Does a person’s attachment style have anything to do with their struggle with substance use disorder (SUD)? Do attachment styles contribute at all to the development of SUD or other mental health conditions? These are all good questions. Moreover, it can be tricky to understand attachment styles, how they form, or how they impact your life. 

Many factors contribute to the development of SUD and co-occurring mental health conditions. However, learning more about your attachment style can help you heal. It can also help you understand problems within your relationships and where these issues come from. Continue reading to learn more, and visit our website to learn how West Coast Recovery Centers may assist you today in your recovery journey. 

Attachment Theory and Attachment Styles

Developed in the 1900s, attachment theory refers to early bonds formed between between a child and a caregiver. Specifically, these bonds form within the first six months of life. According to this theory, these early bonds can profoundly impact the quality of relationships that we experience and create as we age.

Many factors can lead to the development of SUD or other mental health conditions. These factors include genetic vulnerabilities, social environments, changes in brain chemistry, and more. However, early childhood experiences can also increase the risk of developing a mental health condition throughout life; specifically early exposure to trauma during childhood. 

These childhood experiences can also increase the chances of developing one attachment style over another. Your attachment style may not influence every adult relationship you make; however, you may start to recognize patterns in your life that have been formed by the initial attachment style you developed with your caregiver as an infant. Other areas that are often influenced by attachment theory and your unique attachment style include your:

  • Response to conflict 
  • Communication skills 
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Ability to relate to others 
  • Conflict-resolution styles

What Are the Various Types of Attachment Styles?

So, by understanding your attachment style, you can improve yourself, but what are these attachment styles? Let’s take a look!

Secure Attachment

The first attachment style is a secure attachment. Characterized by healthy patterns, individuals with a secure attachment are usually effective communicators. They’re comfortable communicating their needs and regulating their emotions. We typically see secure attachments in healthier relationships and develop from a close caregiver bond in early childhood. 

Anxious Attachment

This attachment style usually illustrates patterns of fear. The need for reassurance also characterizes anxious attachment. You may experience fear of abandonment if this is your attachment style. That fear often causes people to be needy and have severe trust issues. 

Avoidant Attachment

Individuals with an avoidant attachment style typically can’t effectively communicate their needs or emotions. With that, they’re usually unable or unwilling to ask for help, avoid closeness or intimate relationships with others, and prioritize their independence above all else. 

Disorganized Attachment

The last attachment style is disorganized attachment, best categorized as exhibiting anxious and avoidant attachment. Because of this, it usually causes the most conflict for people by causing complex and contradicting emotions. Individuals with this attachment style often fear rejection and struggle with intimacy simultaneously. 

SUD and the Attachment Styles

The extent to which attachment styles influence SUD varies from person to person. Nevertheless, Frontiers in Psychology showcases the connection between SUD and attachment theory. According to this research, people may self-medicate with substance use to “compensate for lacking attachment strategies.” What happens to us in our formative years can significantly influence us into our adult years. Thus, it’s no wonder that the attachment style we develop during these early years has just as much influence on us. 

Before you can connect the dots between your attachment style and your struggle with SUD, you must identify your attachment style. So how can you do that? Well, you can uncover this information through the help of a therapist or during treatment, but there are also some questions you can ask yourself. 

What Are Your Attachment Styles?

So, which attachment style do you have? Sure, you can probably find dozens of online quizzes identifying your style. However, self-reflection and analysis work just as well. Begin by considering some of these questions:

  • How was your childhood? 
  • Did you feel safe, understood, and comforted by your parents or caregivers? 
  • Were you left alone a lot? 
  • Did it seem like your parents were disconnected? 
  • Do you fear rejection? 
    Are you comfortable expressing emotions? 
  • How are your relationships today?

Questions such as these can explain a lot about your situation today, which is what you’ll examine next. To understand your present, you must analyze your past. Doing so offers two benefits. First, you’ll better understand why you are the way you are and your struggle with relationships. Second, it’ll provide insights into your SUD struggles. 

Understanding more about your attachment style can help you when getting to the root of your struggle with SUD. It can even help you learn more about yourself and issues within your current relationships. West Coast Recovery Centers offers clients an extensive approach to addiction treatment, including psychoeducation to help people understand more about how they got where they are. Seek treatment immediately if you’re struggling with SUD, and consider working with West Coast Recovery today. 

Many factors can lead to the overall development of mental health conditions, including substance use disorder (SUD). This includes things we experience in early childhood. These experiences may not only contribute to the development of SUD but they can influence issues within our relationships and other areas of life well into adulthood. Attachment styles can also have a significant influence. It’s theorized that these attachment styles are formed between a child and caregiver within the first six months of life. Understanding the attachment styles, recognizing your style, and acknowledging its influence in your life can help as you navigate your way through addiction treatment. For help, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 today. 

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