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Attachment Theory

Finding out about the major psychological theories which can be used to explain addiction can help you select the best alcohol rehab centre for you or your loved one. Theories used to explain alcohol addiction have implications for treatment, and it is therefore important to understand them before you decide on a specific program. Attachment theory is based on the work of John Bowlby, and posits that a person’s behaviours are largely shaped by the bond they had with their primary caregiver during infancy and childhood.

Attachment is the process of bonding between an infant and mother. According to attachment theory, this relationship and the quality of the interaction determines how the infant turns out in later life. If the infant cries and babbles for attention but the mother ignores it, the infant won’t feel “secure” in the relationship. Babies have a lot of needs, and mothers need to be responsive to those needs in order to raise a psychologically stable child.

In attachment theory, the term “primary caregiver” is used instead of “mother” because the infant could also form a strong attachment to a father, uncle or foster parent. Whoever it is, the relationship between the child and their primary caregiver affects them throughout later life. The main personality types suggested by attachment theory are secure, avoidant and ambivalent.

Secure attachment creates the healthiest individuals because they know that their needs will be met by a parent, provider or partner if they need it. This is the strongest type of attachment and is not associated with alcohol addiction. If anything, securely attached individuals will occasionally experiment with alcohols or use them socially.

Ambivalent attachment is produced when the infant learns that he or she cannot depend on the primary caregiver in times of need. They receive intermittent attention, so they develop a lack of security in their attachment. This causes the individuals to seek consistency and stability, and they often become involved in law enforcement or religious institutions. These people strive for control over their lives, and therefore aren’t likely to use alcohols.

Avoidant attachment is the most commonly related to alcohol addiction. This develops when the primary caregiver does not form a bond with the infant, and instead encourages it to be independent. This causes them to avoid asking for help in situations, distrust authority and have trouble with social expectations and pressures. Their inability to seek help and their issues with socialisation often cause them to turn to alcohols as a quick fix.

Attachment theory offers explanations for addiction, but doesn’t have a specific treatment program associated with it. Alcohol rehab programs which use the theory help the patient understand their addiction through it, which helps them think more reflectively about their use and abstain. They understand what they are really looking for when they turn to alcohols, and therefore realise that they won’t find it by taking them. Their relationship with the counsellor is stable, which is also a benefit to the usually avoidant individuals.

If you’re struggling to choose between alcohol rehab programs, we’re here to help you. Attachment theory is employed by many alcohol rehab facilities, but the specific treatment programs can differ. We have a detailed knowledge of the different services offered, and can give you free advice on which is best for you or your loved one. There are many other models for addiction and treatment, and we can also give you advice on which one would most benefit you.


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