An individual hides their real self as a protection of their internal vulnerabilities.
Addiction is a way of avoiding the need for attachment to another individual.
Addiction, from this perspective, is the result of unmet developmental needs which leaves an individual with an injured and fragmented self. Meaning that the developmental needs of the individual, learning to manage vulnerability and self soothe in childhood, leaves an adult with a deficit of internal coping strategies.
Drugs and/or alcohol often fills this internal void, externally.
Vulnerable adults are unable to regulate overwhelming emotions and in many cases are even unable to identify what they feel. Unable to draw upon their own internal resources to manage overwhelming emotions, (because there aren't any coping skills), they remain in constant need of self-regulating resources provided externally "out there."
Since painful, rejecting, and shaming relationships are the cause of their own emptiness in the self, they cannot turn to others to get what they need, since they have never received what they needed in their early development.
Deprivation of 'needs' leave individuals with unrealistic and intolerable emotions that are not only disturbing to others, but also shameful to themselves. With few other options open to them, substance abusers turn to alcohol, drugs, and other external sources of regulation, (e.g. food, sex, work, gambling etc.) Each time substance abusers turn towards alcohol or drugs or other compulsive sources, their shame heightens. The cycle of numbing and shame continues and the individual goes deeper and deeper into a fixed addiction. This addiction will progress because the body also develops a tolerance to the drug/alcohol. The more an individual uses the drug, the deeper the shame develops and the more lost a person becomes internally. Externally an individual becomes more and more addicted to the drug as well. Just because an individual may stop the physical addiction, the internal struggle does not stop if coping skills are not developed.
Thus, the addicted person does not remain sober and relapses occur.
Consequently, addicted persons are always vulnerable to external "fixes" which are compulsive, obsessive and addictive behaviors, substituting one behavior for another until the vulnerabilities in the 'self' are repaired. Repair and restoration of the 'self' can be accomplished only within a healing and healthy relationship such as individual therapy.
The addicted individual needs a consistent, nurturing, mirroring, environment that can contain and manage negative and destructive impulses while giving the individual is also given the opportunity to identify, internalize, and incorporate a healthy set of coping skills to manage their emotions.
Taken from Addiction as an Attachment Disorder