Addiction is a devastating force. Roughly 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 suffer from drug or alcohol addiction — and that’s not including those addicted individuals who go uncounted and untreated because their addictions are on the quieter, less visible side. With more and more Americans suffering from it, the question arises, just what is addiction, and how can we best treat it and prevent it?
There are many models of addiction — from the outmoded “You-just-lack-self-control” model to the psychiatric disease model. New evidence, however, is offering us new views of addiction.
Attachment is an all-important part of our psyches and lives — it refers to the way we learn to form relationships and intimacy in early childhood, and the way we carry these early formative experiences into our adult relationships. When we have parents who are loving, consistent, and available, we are more likely to form secure attachments, and be able to form nourishing relationships as adults. However, all too often parents are not there when kids need them. Kiddos need touch, gentle attention, and something called attunement from their caregivers. If, for one reason or another (violence, abuse, neglect, etc.), a child learns that their environment is not safe, or that they can’t get their needs met, this is where things start to get difficult. Many of these people will develop an insecure attachment, and begin to find strategies to dissociate from their pain. Eventually, they will begin looking to other sources to get their needs met.
Some people might turn to food; others to alcohol; others to pills. New research suggests that people turn to these substances to help them meet their deep, gnawing needs for regulation, for companionship, and for love. (For more information, we recommend the book Addiction as an Attachment Disorder)
From this perspective, it becomes clear that true healing and recovery is possible. It also becomes clear that recovery doesn’t just occur in isolation, but that through coming together to share ourselves, our stories, our pain, and our joy, we can support one another in mutual recovery — and perhaps begin to truly feel loved, and begin healing our deepest wounds.
To learn more about the Sober Living Community at Stairway to Freedom, contact us. Our recovery homes in Chicago support residents in building recovery and adjusting to sober life. It’s easier when you have help.