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Understanding The Role Of Reactive Attachment In Addiction

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Children have needs which demand to be met. We all do. When our needs aren’t met, we react. How we react varies from one person to the next. We can react by closing ourselves in or we can react by lashing out. We can react by clinging or we can react by avoiding. We can react through codependent behavior or we can react through counterdependent behavior. However it is we react, we are reacting because we are angry, hurt, and scared that our essential needs haven’t been met. This doesn’t apply only to children. Many adults or adult children who become addicts and alcoholics are in a chronic stage of reactive attachment, creating power struggles with themselves, with the drugs and alcohol they have become chemically dependent upon and the people who are trying to support them.

Addiction and attachment are closely related. Many treatment programs and addiction therapist’s investigate attachment styles or attachment disorders in a client. Gaining an understanding of the formative years of a client’s life can create insight as to why a client attached to drugs and alcohol. Reactive attachment is part of an attachment disorder in which clients have a difficult time creating healthy, lasting, regulated relationships. According to belonging to Families By Design, individuals struggling with attachment issues:

  • Have a demonstrated inability to be genuinely affectionate
  • Do not learn to trust
  • Fail to develop a conscience
  • Do not allow people to be in control of them

This reactivity comes full circle in drugs and alcohol addiction in which a client can become fully detached and defiant toward people trying to love and support them.

Attachment issues stem from the earliest foundational years. “This damage is done by being abused or physically or emotionally separated from one primary caregiver during the first three years of life”, the website explains. “The unattached child literally does not have a stake in humanity,” citing that someone with such attachment issues is filled with a rage which passes normal amounts of anger.

Reactive attachment therapy seeks to heal the wounds of the past and create new ways of forming healthy and loving relationships. Breaking the attachment to drugs and alcohol while restoring a healthy attachment to loving family members and friends can be a healing process for the addict or alcoholic in treatment.

Design For Change knows that everyone is capable of recovery. There is hope. If you or a loved one are struggling, call us today for information on our long term tiered treatment programs and recovery services at (877) 267-3646.

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