Alcohol dependency has a habit of wreaking havoc anywhere it goes; it has a tendency of breaking relationships, tearing families apart, and creating money issues. Although alcohol dependency is a self-control or self-regulation issue in and of itself, much scientific research and non-profit organizations have spent much time and resources to provide an explanation to the cause of such a disorder and how to break a person from such an addiction. Many have blamed genes, exposure, and social desirability for the alcohol addiction phenomenon, but new research says that although the above may be contributors, it may not be the most accurate cause of such a debilitating addiction. Authors, Clinton & Sibcy (2006), Schindler, Thomasius, Sack, Gemeindhardt, Kustner & Eckert (2005), and Hernandez, Salerno & Bottoms (2010) believe that an avoidant attachment style may be the leading cause of the alcohol abuse.
Attachment theory ultimately states that the relationship a child has with his/her caregiver at the earliest stages of their lives affects how they can develop and maintain relationships later in life. Essentially, people with avoidant attachment styles often had parents that dismissed their feelings or emotions, especially any negative emotions. Even further, some parents physically or emotionally reject or disengage from their children. When these parenting styles persist, these children, and then adults follow the following relationship rules: other people are not reliable, dependable or trustworthy to care for their needs and they must rely solely on themselves to tend to these needs. To pinpoint, as Clinton & Sibcy state, “addictive behavior stems from turning away from others, especially God, and looking to the self, and only to the self, for comfort. This state of inwardness sets the stage for addiction as the avoidant person looks for substitutes for intimacy” (pg. 84).
Many often label attachment theory as “pop” psychology. In essence, is their research to back up the claims that an avoidant attachment style often leads to substance abuse? Hernandez et al. (2008) discovered that, in comparison to the other attachment styles, avoidant attached people used and abused alcohol significantly more as a coping style. Further, Schindler et al. (2005) found a significantly larger difference in alcohol abuse between securely attached individuals and avoidant attached individuals. At first glance, this theory seems very fatalistic. How fair is it that a child’s parents have such a weight on their behaviors as well as their abilities to develop and maintain relationships as they grow through the lifespan? It is entirely possible to break free from the insecure attachment style and the alcohol addiction one may be facing, but that is unfortunately a blog post for another time. However, a great source to learn about attachment theory and how to develop healthier attachment styles, consult Why YouDo the Things You Do by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy.