Father and son attachment styles in alcoholic and non-alcoholic families

Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2018 Jan-Jun;9(1):15-19. doi: 10.5958/2394-2061.2018.00003.4. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


Background: The theory of attachment is important to understand a lot of human behaviour. Styles of attachment could be important predictors in developing dependence on alcoholism. Insecure attachment patterns could be significant risk factors for future alcohol use.

Methods: Participants for this study consist of fathers with alcohol dependence syndrome (ADS) from treatment centres and fathers from the community with no dependency on alcohol, and their sons (n=200). The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST), socioeconomic status scale were administered, and attachment styles were derived by the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ). We hypothesised a prior concept reflecting theoretical predictions for the association between attachment styles and alcohol in both the generations.

Results: Statistics on SPSS-16 was used to test our hypotheses. As predicted, fathers with ADS had insecure attachments styles in comparison to the control group. Substance abuse/dependence and treatment participation were at an all-time low for the secure group.

Conclusion: The findings from this study identify attachment styles as an influential factor in understanding the divergence between alcohol dependence in treatment seekers. The findings further imply that differential treatment may need to be provided taking into account one's attachment representation to promote successful recovery. It also highlights the need to develop secure ties in children of alcoholic parents to protect them from use of substances as a coping and a learned mechanism. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are highlighted and implications for diagnosis and treatment are discussed.

Keywords: Coping; Diagnosis; Learning; Recovery; Treatment.