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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2004 Jul 15;75(1):47-53.

Relation of attachment style to family history of alcoholism and alcohol use disorders in early adulthood.

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  • 1University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center, 200 South 7th Street, Columbia, MO 65201, USA.


The present study examined the association between paternal alcoholism and attachment style in early adulthood and sought to determine whether attachment style might, at least partially, mediate intergenerational risk for alcoholism. The current report focuses on the cross-sectional relation between family history (FH) of alcoholism, attachment styles, and alcohol use disorders (AUD) when cohort members were, on average, 29 years old (N = 369; 46% male; 51% FH+). Results indicated that FH+ participants were more likely to have insecure attachment, characterized by fearful-avoidant and dismissed-avoidant styles. Additionally, fearful-avoidant and dismissed-avoidant attachment styles were related to the presence of an AUD even after controlling for sex and FH (P < 0.05). There was little evidence, however, that attachment style mediated the relation between paternal alcoholism and AUD in offspring; the FH-AUD association was only negligibly reduced when the effect of attachment style was controlled. Our findings suggest that insecure attachment style is a risk factor for AUD, independent of familial risk for alcoholism.

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