Attachment disorders in alcohol and gambling addicted patients: Preliminary evaluations


The addictive behaviors can be seen as attachment disorders. In literature studies about the relationship between attachment styles and addictions are few. However, in addicted patients the identification of secure or insecure attachment styles seems to have serious implications for the therapeutic alliance and the treatment.

To study the relationships between different attachment styles and types of addiction (chemical or behavioral).

To examine the role of attachment styles in patients with alcohol dependence (AD) or pathological gambling (PG).

We recruited 29 with AD and 33 with GP according to DSM-IV-TR criteria; all patients were abstinent from addictive behaviors at least since one month, the experiences in close relationships (ECR) was administered for the study of attachment styles.

PG compared to AD has higher raw scores both anxiety factor (P < 0.001) and avoidance factor (P = 0.003) at ECR. ECR ambivalent correlates with the diagnosis of PG (P = 0.010); ECR avoidant correlates with AD (P = 0.006); ECR anxiety shows a trend of correlation with the diagnosis of AD (P = 0.052). The subjects showed the following attachment styles (Table 1).

This is the first study that compares the attachment styles of patients AD and PG. We found differences in attachment styles of the two types of addiction, confirming the need of different approaches and then different types of treatment. Our findings need to be replicated in larger groups, also widening the target of other addictions.

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