Over the next six months I will be blogging about my adventures in coming to terms with my insecure attachments in recovery.
I will blog on how “helping others” helps me (or not) with my insecure attachments.
I do think sitting in a room of recovering alcoholics helps one find a more “secure base” or experience a learnt attachment via recovery groups.
I have always thought 12 step groups seem to be full of people with insecure attachment issues so maybe we can see this in each other and can help each other finding loving bonds with others in “the rooms” or help mend or increase loving bonds in our own private lives too.
We do essentially heal and recover in recovery because of the loving actions of others. It is difficult recovering without deciding to trust at least one other person in recovery.
We have to let someone in to our private selves it seems. We have to bond with another human being!
But then again, do alcoholics have this attachment issue – can I talk on behalf of a whole recovery movement?
And if other alcoholics do suffer from it, can we deduce that these issues were there prior to recovery?
Are they antecedent to alcohol problems, are they part of the pathomechanism that drives additive behaviours?
Is addiction partly driven by attachment disorders?
We will start by looking at alcoholics and then in later blogs look at sex and eating disorders too. I think we may find that insecure attachment to primary care givers has a big part to play in all addictive behaviours.
So is addiction partly driven by attachment disorders?
The study (1) has shown that people with alcohol dependence significantly differ from non-alcoholics in terms of attachment style.
They also received significantly higher scores on insecure attachment style – anxious-ambivalent and avoidant style, and higher scores on attachment dimensions – anxiety and avoidance.
Empirical studies clearly confirm that the history of the attachment relationships significantly affects the shape and quality of interpersonal relationships formed in adulthood, shaping personality and developing a sense of identity, emotional functioning, coping with stress etc
Two distinct dimensions with regards to bonding are: anxiety – corresponding to fear of rejection, and avoidance – referring to avoidance of intimacy (closeness).
Empirical studies confirm that patients addicted to alcohol and other psychoactive substances are very likely to have insecure attachment styles and to display severe anxiety and avoidance in attachment dimensions.
The results of this study confirm our hypothesis that alcohol dependent persons are significantly more likely to exhibit insecure attachment styles (anxious-ambivalent and avoidant styles) than non-alcoholics, and significantly less likely to display secure attachment style.
As indicated by the results obtained, alcohol dependent persons also differ from non-alcoholics in terms of anxiety and avoidance attachment as they received higher scores on these dimensions.
These results are consistent with the results of other studies in which the percentage distribution of the occurrence of the secure style in people addicted to alcohol varies from 5.4 to 40%, while insecure attachment styles vary from 66 to 94.6% [21, 23, 24, 35].
Studies have also shown that among addicts variables such as the avoidance of closeness and fear of intimacy assume much higher values than in patients without addiction .
It seems therefore, that the occurrence of insecure attachment styles and dimensions of such intensity (that indicates feelings of mistrust in interpersonal relationships) is prevalent in patients with alcohol dependence.
Both men and women dependent on alcohol exhibit difficulties in establishing secure, trusting interpersonal relationships and at the same time have an increased tendency to feel anxiety and fear about the stability of the relationship, resulting from the lack of a sense of security and/or actively avoiding forming close, intimate relationships.”
So it seems the prevalence of insecure attachment style is very high from 66-95% in alcoholics which suggests the vast majority of recovering alcoholics know exactly what I am sharing about when I mention my issues around insecure attachment – and are also in a position to help me with these issues.
Wyrzykowska, E., Głogowska, K., & Mickiewicz, K. (2014). Attachment relationships among alcohol dependent persons. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, 27(2), 145-161.