Attachment and emotion regulation in substance addictions and behavioral addictions

J Behav Addict. 2017 Dec 1;6(4):534-544. doi: 10.1556/2006.6.2017.086.


Background Risky behaviors have been related to emotional regulation and attachment, which may constitute risk factors for developing an addictive behavior. However, there may also be differences between substance and non-substance-related addictions. Aims This study aimed to examine the relationship of emotional regulation and attachment, with substance (alcohol and drug abuse), and non-substance-related addictions (gambling disorder, video game addiction, and problematic Internet use) in adolescents and emerging adults. The study also aimed to examine gender differences for such predictors. Methods The sample comprised 472 students aged 13-21 years recruited from high schools and vocational education centers. Results Findings demonstrated that emotion regulation was predictive of all addictive behaviors assessed in this study (alcohol and drug abuse, gambling disorder, video game addiction, and problematic Internet use), whereas attachment predicted non-substance-related addictions (gambling disorder, video game addiction, and problematic Internet use). In addition, gender differences were found, with females scoring significantly higher in maternal and peer attachment, whereas males scored significantly higher in gambling disorder and video game addiction. Conclusion The findings may be useful for preventive and clinical interventions conducted with youth regarding addictive behaviors.

Keywords: addiction; alcohol; attachment; behavioral addictions; emotion regulation; substance addictions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Video Games*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

Funding sources: None.