As children grow, they naturally become less dependent on caregivers.
For children with attachment disorders, however, the search for forms of emotional support and regulation continues into the teenage years, when many people encounter drugs and alcohol for the first time.
Since teenagers with attachment disorders have been searching for emotional control since infancy, they are especially vulnerable to eating disorders, self harming behaviours like cutting, aggression, hypervigilance, or perfectionism.
These young adults may also develop unhealthy relationships marked by manipulation, dependency, or avoidance.
For many young people, drugs and alcohol become reliable, easy, and powerfully effective forms of self soothing. It is common for alcoholics and addicts to describe their first drink or drug as a remarkable experience of feeling truly at peace for the first time.
Psychoactive substances like drugs and alcohol have commanding emotional effects. In the beginning, they can create temporary feelings of euphoria that can become addictive over time.
People with attachment disorders commonly internalise feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem early in life which can manifest in fear of intimacy later in life. Drugs and alcohol seem to offer a remedy to teenagers seeking emotional comfort while navigating the awkward waters of adolescent relationships.
The Way Forward
Understanding the link between attachment disorders and addiction allows therapy to be tailored to the specific needs of each individual.
Drugs and alcohol foster isolation and detachment so an essential part of recovery is developing trustworthy bonds with reliable people.
Relationships that foster a non-judgemental attitude and honesty, facilitate a foundation for individuals in recovery, helping to repair and challenge the patterns of avoidance and isolation commonly exhibited during active substance use.