What You Need to Know About Attachment

We develop an attachment style early in our lives within our homes. Our parents and caregivers foster within us either a secure or an insecure attachment style. Sometimes, parents and caregivers are unknowingly passing on characteristics of the style of attachment they were taught. Our attachment style can have a considerable impact on the types of relationships we develop later in life. In extreme neglect or abuse cases, an insecure attachment style can lead to “developmental trauma.” According to trainer and consultant Dr. Cardwell Nuckols, we developed an insecure attachment style; however, there is hope for us to heal during recovery with the support of others.

What Is Meant by “Attachment”?

Attachment describes how our parents or early caregivers treated us as babies and young children. In other words, our first relationship. Much like our first experience with anything in life, this relationship impacts our expectations and perceptions. As children, we generalize our experiences, assuming that everyone has the same experiences that we do. We do not have anything to compare our experiences–we have little exposure to the world outside of our homes, nor do we understand that other people see things differently than we do. The first relationship that we build with our parents or caregivers gives us an attachment style that can impact us through adulthood.

What Are the Different Attachment Styles?

Attachment styles can be described in four different types:

  1. Secure
  2. Avoidant
  3. Anxious
  4. Ambivalent

Each of these attachment styles has its own set of traits that might appear in prominence as we develop friendships and relationships during adolescents. The four styles can be broken into two categories, with “secure” attachment on its own and “insecure” attachment including “avoidant, anxious, and ambivalent” styles. These styles can develop early on in life in relation to how well and how often our needs were met as children.

What Issues Can Occur for Those With Insecure Attachment Styles?

Individuals with insecure attachment styles might develop a feeling that the world is not there to help them. They can feel unsafe or have difficulty trusting others when forming relationships. They may avoid other people altogether and not develop the skills to develop fulfilling friendships or relationships later in life. Each insecure attachment style has characteristics of its own. Some people can have variances and traits of all styles; however, the styles are defined as such:

  • Avoidant: 
    • Difficulty getting close to others
    • Struggle with intimacy
    • Diminish the importance of relationships in life
    • Spend a lot of time alone
  • Anxious:
    • Sometimes called “disorganized attachment”
    • Prone to experience extremes in moods
    • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Ambivalent:
    • Fear abandonment in relationships
    • Difficulty feeling secure that relationships will last
    • Need reassurance and consistency in their relationships

Each of the insecure attachment styles can present issues in developing friendships or other relationships. During recovery, people may struggle to open up other others in support groups or avoid them all together. They may feel that relationships with others are not necessary or that they cannot trust other people. However, we can heal from our attachment styles when we surround ourselves with others in a safe, supportive, and secure environment.

Healing Our Attachment Styles

As alumni grow into adulthood, they might realize patterns in their behaviors that indicate a particular attachment style. Sometimes, we grew up with neglectful and abusive parents who taught us not to trust anyone. We might feel uncomfortable being vulnerable around others. For others, our parents and caregivers might not have had the skills to provide us with a secure attachment style. They might have grown up in an unhealthy environment and unintentionally taught us to feel insecure in our friendships and relationships.

When we grow up, we are responsible for dealing with our issues and behaviors. However, remember that we are not alone in recovery. During treatment at Fire Mountain, alumni recall that they are lifelong members of the “Bear Tribe.” The recovery community can help you heal from an insecure attachment style. You may need to feel uncomfortable or deal with feelings of vulnerability; however, as you surround yourself with others in recovery and people with well-developed coping skills, you can heal from an insecure attachment style.

Healing and recovery are lifelong processes. As you surround yourself with positive and healthy people, develop healthy habits and coping skills, and take care of your whole-self wellness, you can live the life of your dreams! The recovery community is here to help guide and support you along your journey!

Our attachment style can impact our ability to develop healthy friendships and relationships in our adult lives. Attachment is developed through our first relationship with our caregivers or parents as children. We can develop a secure or insecure attachment style, depending upon how we were raised and how our needs were met. Healing from an insecure attachment style is possible. We can seek the support and guidance of healthy individuals within the recovery community. They can teach us to trust others, feel safe and secure with other people, and value relationships with others. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to support the alumni of our program. We can help you with any struggles that you may be facing. If you are struggling with issues of early adulthood and recovery following treatment, call us at (303) 443-3343. As lifelong members of the “Bear Tribe,” remember that we’ve got your back!

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