A young teenage girl, 13, is raised by her single father, who often did not provide her with the support that she needed. The young girl would often try to seek support from her father, but every time that she did, she did not receive positive feedback from him. After numerous times of reaching out to her father for guidance and support and being neglected by him, the young girl eventually stopped seeking her father’s reassurance. She trained herself to seek support elsewhere – and this is when she began drinking, leading her to a long path of addiction.

Attachment styles provide insight into the way people are raised and the effects of their environment.

There are 4 main attachment styles:

  • Secure attachment style – With this style, individuals view themselves and others in a positive light. They have higher self-esteem and feel that they can confidently be themselves. They were raised in an environment where they were properly supported by their caretakers.
  • Dismissive-avoidant style – People who have this style tend to shut down emotionally because they were not supported properly when they were a child. They often distance themselves and feel more independent than they really are because they were taught at an early age to seek reassurance from themselves.
  • Anxious preoccupied style – Individuals with this style typically have an emotional hunger in relationships, whether love or trust is formed. These people are often looking for someone to “complete” them and may be “needy” or “demanding”. This is due to the person not feeling secure as a child and doing everything in their power to obtain reassurance from their caretaker.
  • Fearful avoidant style – People who have this style are usually unsure of what they should do in a relationship. They understand that they need to get close to others to fulfill their needs, but are also scared to get too close. These individuals may have sought their caretaker for comfort but was also afraid of them throughout childhood.

Individuals who were raised in an environment that did not fully support them are at higher risk for addiction. Due to a lack of security and confidence in themselves, these individuals may try to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol. Individuals may struggle with a sense of self and with connecting to others, causing them to rely on substances to cope with their negative feelings.

Attachment styles can be overcome. As the brain changes, improved ways of coping and viewing the self and others can be learned. This means that your attachment style does not define you and there is opportunity for recovery. There are many resources and support groups to help someone through this. By speaking with a doctor, a person can determine a treatment plan and find a therapist to work through these issues and be on their way to a more healthier way of living.  


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