Attachment in relation to affect regulation and interpersonal functioning among substance use disorder in patients

Fred Arne Thorberg, Michael Lyvers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
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Attachment theory has been conceptualised as an affect regulation theory, proposing that attachment is associated with the expression and recognition of emotions as well as interpersonal functioning. Previous research has reported affect regulation difficulties in substance use disorders and addiction has been considered an attachment disorder. However, scarce empirical research exists on the relationship of attachment in relation to affect regulation and interpersonal functioning in those with substance use problems. Thus, the objective of the present study was to investigate potential associations between attachment, negative mood regulation (NMR) expectancies, fear of intimacy and self-differentiation in substance abusers. The revised adult attachment scale (RAAS), the NMR expectancies scale, the fear of intimacy scale and the differentiation of self inventory were administered to a sample of 100 substance use disorder inpatients. Attachment accounted for significant variance in NMR expectancies and was also a strong predictor of fear of intimacy. The predictive utility of attachment also extended to self-differentiation, suggesting that attachment was strongly related to overall self-differentiation score, Emotional reactivity, Emotional cut-off and I position. These findings support attachment theory suggesting that attachment is associated with and predicts affect regulation abilities and difficulties in interpersonal functioning in a sample of substance use disorder inpatients. The inclusion and assessment of attachment appears to be important in the development of treatment programmes for substance abusing individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-478
Number of pages15
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


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