Why Insecure Attachment Can Drive Addiction for Women

Caring for the human body, mind, and soul can be challenging. Parents do their best, along with other caregivers, but sometimes they fall short. With a strong emotional connection and love, called ‘secure attachment,’ children grow to feel confident and resilient. They are securely attached within themselves and share this love and kindness with others. When they feel emotionally disconnected, or ‘insecure attachment,’ they can struggle with the regulation of their nerves and bodies, resulting in emotional and physical problems as adults. Addiction can sometimes come from this as well. Learn more about why insecure attachment is so important to understand 

Wired for Attachment

The survival of animal species in the wild depends on attachment. Monkeys literally cling to their mothers for the first part of their lives. Kangaroos grow in a pouch on their mother’s stomachs for a while, nursing and staying safe. Not every animal has connected in this way right away. When a strong connection exists, animals (including children) grow into self-sufficient adults who regulate their emotions and learn how to cope with real-life stressors. Animals cannot learn to eat unless they feel secure and understand what needs to be done. Children are also more emotionally resilient and able to handle adverse circumstances along the journey to adulthood. This can manifest into addictive behaviors, mental health issues, and more for children who do not have secure attachments as children. 

Insecure Attachment Challenges

A baby looks to its caregiver for comfort, feeding, clothing, and proper care. What teaches self-regulation of these things later in life is being well cared for early on. Addiction to drugs, food, OCD, anxiety, depression, and many other issues can come from insecure attachment. Attachment trauma is almost always a root cause of addiction. When people with addiction deal with insecure attachment, they have to first recognize this happened in their history. If it happened, then they have to deal with how to navigate that as an adult (or teen). The challenges are typically finding ways to resolve the triggers for self-soothing that turned them to alcohol and drugs, rather than connection. People who cannot attach to caregivers automatically seek out other objects or things to attach to, which help soothe the issue for the time being but don’t really resolve the crisis.

Addiction Issues and Attachment

Exposure to substances takes time to develop tolerance, then lead to addiction. Not every person will become addicted who uses substances but they can develop with repeated use. Addiction is a form of attachment to a substance. Insecure attachment is associated with behaviors that are risky for people. Those who did not develop secure attachment can go on to develop an addiction. Many people who have not experienced attachment may lead healthy lives with the right focus on healing the root causes of addiction. There are no easy answers but with time a person can find opportunities to grow and heal.

Creating Better Connections

Although it may feel difficult at first, the hardest part is recognizing a problem exists. The issue with insecure attachment is it changes the way the brain and body respond to its environment. This means the person has to relearn ways to cope with their environment in a way that is healthier than they learned growing up. To create more connections and establish grounding in the body, they have to rewire themselves for secure attachment. Neuroplasticity is helpful when thinking about ways to change the brain so it can focus on healing from the past.  This can help:

  • Develop more secure attachments now with loved ones and friends
  • Resolve past trauma from the family of origin or in the journey of life
  • Create other options and pathways to self-soothing behavior
  • Connect with others who are struggling and share hopes in the midst of challenges

Attachment can carry a negative connotation but is actually a good thing. It is very healing to help drive the self to find out why it is difficult to attach to people in a healthy way and work on building tools that support long-lasting growth and healing in recovery.

Treatment for Attachment Disorders

Other people in treatment for addiction struggle with insecure attachments, too. Learning a person is not alone in the journey helps. It is also helpful to give up denial of the issues a person faces so they can find healing. The lens of attachment theory can look at the root causes and start to empower people to learn how to rewire the brain for connection. It takes time. Nothing happens overnight. To cultivate connection means to work on attachment to positive, healthy people and things in life. Attachment disorders are difficult for people to overcome but with therapy and hard work, they can work through it to find hope and healing. Addiction can create isolation and suffering for someone with substance use disorder and insecure attachment. They may struggle to connect with others. Treatment using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people transition to positive behaviors that are healthier. CBT helps people who did not have attachments early on or very few and provides skills to help them develop meaningful relationships, feel more confident, and develop supportive connections to their work and personal lives. 

Casa Capri is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and a purpose. What we do here is to give you a place to find sisterhood and healing. We provide tools and resources to support your growth and journey in recovery. Holistic practices, traditional therapy, and more are part of our program. If you are ready to heal from addiction, call us: 844-593-8020


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If you or a loved one has a substance addiction, please give us a call today at 949-535-4998. It’s time to heal your heart and find true happiness. Our admissions team is always available to talk and answer any questions you may have about our Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs at Casa Capri Recovery for women.