We are constantly building interpersonal relationships, from our very first breath until our very last. The way that we relate to other people is so important for our mental health and well-being. However, as adults, we don’t always have the healthiest attachment styles. This often reflects what our lives were like as children and can be affected strongly by emotional or physical trauma. For some, certain attachment styles can pave the road to substance abuse.
What are the Four Types of Attachment Styles?
Psychotherapy recognizes for primary attachment styles:
- Disorganized – unresolved
- Anxious – preoccupied
- Avoidant – dismissing
- Secure – autonomous
Each attachment style comes with its own common traits. The healthiest attachment style is secure attachment. Individuals who demonstrate traits from this style are comfortable in their relationships and don’t mind letting other people in. They are able to rely on others and know that they, in turn, can also be relied upon.
Those with an anxious attachment style may feel insecure and worry that their partner will reject them. They might cause issues in the relationship simply to see if their partner will stay. Often, this stems from unresolved issues with their own parents.
The avoidant attachment style is characterized by emotional distance. People who fall under this umbrella prefer to feel independent and are rarely comfortable discussing their emotions. They don’t want to lean on others and they don’t want others to lean on them.
People who have an unresolved attachment style are frequently argumentative, unable to control their own emotions, and are antisocial. These individuals generally come from a place of trauma in their own childhood and will often pass it down to their own children.
People rarely fall into just one category but demonstrate traits from a variety.
How Does Attachment Style Relate to Addiction?
Healthy attachments are critical for development, especially in children and teens. Reaching adulthood without secure attachments can make it difficult to feel comfortable with interpersonal relationships, leading to a pattern of unhealthy attachment styles.
In turn, the unhealthy attachment styles can cause people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including drugs and alcohol. Addiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum; most people don’t just pick up drugs or alcohol with the intention of abusing them.
Life events, trauma, and damaged interpersonal relationships can lead people to seek refuge and restore balance wherever they can. Beginning to heal these attachments and learning how to feel secure in a relationship can pave the way to recovery.
How Can I Begin Forming Secure Attachments?
There’s good news if you’re struggling with your attachment style – you can break the cycle and begin creating healthy relationships.
Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), couples and family therapy, time, and practice, you can rewire your brain to be comfortable with intimacy. This is also an important first step in treating addiction.
Just treating for physical addiction is similar to treating a broken wrist with pain medication; you’re treating the symptom, but not the cause. Working through insecure attachments and any co-occurring disorders is critical for lifelong recovery.
At RAIN Recovery in Encino, California, we believe in treating the whole person – mind, body, and soul. We offer traditional clinical therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Additionally, we provide holistic treatment options. Some holistic therapy options that people with insecure attachments may benefit from include:
- Crystal healing
- Exercise therapy