University of Leicester
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Young people and problem drug use : the role of attachment theory and family background

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Mark. Bowers
Attachment theory has been proposed as a potential framework from which to understand the variable effect of family of origin experiences on the problematic use of drugs in young people. The present study measured family experiences, attachment styles, hopelessness and drug use, drawing participants from both a drug treatment service and the general population of young people.;The findings indicated that the young people with drug use problems differed from the control group in that they emphasised the positive consequences of drug use and were more likely to leave school early. Furthermore, aspects of the family experience, close relationships, and attachment anxiety were associated with higher levels of drug use. However, there was an absence of a direct relationship between family of origin experiences and attachment style. The number of close relationships the young person had experienced was directly related to higher levels of drug use, greater attachment anxiety and particular family experiences.;It was concluded that, although attachment theory appears to be a promising framework from which to approach the influence of the family on subsequent drug use, the current research failed to identify a direct link between family experiences and measured attachment style. However, the role of romantic relationships appeared to be crucial for young people as they endeavour to create a secure close relationship. Lack of success in this domain of life may be viewed as either, a cause or a side effect of increased use of drugs. It is proposed that, irrespective of the causal instigator, poorer relationships and high levels of drug use will have an interacting effect. Therefore, close relationships are regarded as a legitimate target for therapeutic intervention when addressing the treatment needs of young people with drug use problems.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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