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A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Attachment Theory and Recovery

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Key takeaways:

  • Attachment theory explains how people form emotional bonds with others.
  • There are three primary attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant.
  • Secure attachment involves a positive view of self and others, trust in relationships, and seeking support when needed.
  • Anxious attachment is characterized by a negative self-view, a need for reassurance, and difficulty trusting others.
  • Avoidant attachment involves avoiding close relationships and suppressing emotions.
  • Substance use disorders can distort attachment styles, leading to maladaptive coping mechanisms.
  • Treatment for substance use disorders may include addressing attachment-related issues through therapy approaches like attachment-based therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Lantana provides support in developing healthier attachment styles and improving overall well-being for individuals with substance use disorders.

Attachment theory is a psychological model that explains the way in which people form and maintain emotional bonds with others. It was first proposed by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the 1950s and has since been expanded upon by other researchers. “Relatively little attention has been paid to the possible contribution of attachment theory to our understanding of problems of addiction and their psychotherapeutic management” (The application of Bowlby’s attachment theory to the psychotherapy of the addictions, Reading, 2002.)

According to attachment theory, people develop attachment styles during childhood that shape the way they interact with others in relationships. These attachment styles are characterized by the way in which an individual seeks and receives comfort and support from others. There are three primary attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant attachement.

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment is characterized by a positive view of self and others, a sense of trust in relationships, and a willingness to seek support when needed. People with secure attachment styles are more likely to form healthy, supportive relationships and cope well with stress. It’s important to note that the role of mental health professionals in facilitating the development of secure attachments has been acknowledged.

Anxious Attachment

Anxious attachment is characterized by a negative view of self and a need for constant reassurance and validation from others. People with anxious attachment styles may have difficulty trusting others and may feel overly dependent on their relationships. They may also experience high levels of anxiety and insecurity in their relationships.

Avoidant Attachment

Avoidant attachment is characterized by a tendency to avoid close relationships and suppress emotions. People with avoidant attachment styles may have difficulty forming close, intimate relationships and may struggle to express their feelings or seek support from others.

Substance use disorders can disrupt attachment bonds and cause attachment styles to become distorted. For example, someone with an anxious attachment style may turn to substance use as a way to cope with feelings of anxiety and insecurity, while someone with an avoidant attachment style may use substances as a way to numb their emotions and avoid intimacy. Also, research has established that traumatic early-childhood experiences and insecure attachments are both independent and interrelated risk factors for developing substance abuse disorders.

attachment and recovery

Treatment for substance use disorders often involves addressing attachment-related issues. This may include helping individuals develop healthier attachment styles, improving communication and emotional expression, and building supportive relationships. Therapy approaches such as attachment-based therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be particularly helpful in addressing attachment issues in recovery with Lantana.

Bottom Line

Attachment theory helps to explain the importance of emotional bonds in our lives and how these bonds can be disrupted by substance use disorders. Treatment for substance use disorders at Lantana takes into account attachment-related issues in order to help individuals develop healthier relationships and improve their overall well-being.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.