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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Attachment styles and alcohol problems in emerging adulthood: a pilot test of an integrative model

A pilot study tested a model of alcohol problems based on attachment theory. It was hypothesised that insecure attachment, particularly the fearful-avoidant attachment style, may be manifested in low levels of social support, which in turn might lead to alcohol problems in young adulthood.
Problematic alcohol use is a key area of concern for individuals with a mental health disorder.

Ninety university students completed self-report measures of attachment, perceived social support, parent/peer attachment and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tool.

Analyses for males indicated that attachment styles were associated in the expected direction with alcohol problem. Secure attachment was negatively associated with alcohol consumption, alcohol dependence and having experienced adverse consequences resulting from alcohol use, while fearful-avoidant adult attachment was positively correlated with alcohol dependence.

While fearful-avoidant attachment was related to lower perceptions of social support, the pathway model was not supported.

Results for females, in contrast, showed no association between adult attachment style and alcohol problems, but perceived social support was again positively associated with secure attachment and negatively related to fearful and preoccupied attachment styles.

Although results were limited by the small number of male participants, future testing of the proposed model may show promise.

Results are discussed in terms of gender differences in the experience of alcohol problems, and implications for the advancement of therapeutic interventions.

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