Strategies for helping the alcoholic or addict maintain a lasting and satisfying recovery are far different from the strategies for initially achieving abstinence.
Consequently, what substance abusers need from therapy during the first few weeks of treatment is far different from what they require three, six, or twelve months in recovery.
If the way substance abusers establish and manage their interpersonal attachments is to be transformed, it is essential they learn new behaviors, values, and attitudes that are incompatible with the drinking and using behaviors, values, and attitudes.
Integration and assimilation into the twelve step program and philosophy are crucial components of this process. Learning how to effectively use psychotherapy over the long term is another crucial component of their recovery process.
The entire course of late stage recovery can be defined as the successful establishment of empathic attachment relationships, (parents, partners, children) while at the same time helping substance abusers become aquainted with their emotional selves.
Until alcoholics and addicts develop the capacity to use their feelings as signals and to become emotionally intimate with themselves, they will continue to engage in their self destructive and self defeating behaviors.
Substance abusers typically lack the ability to take care of themselves or protect themselves from their own self defeating actions. Because chemically dependent individuals have a deficient or underdeveloped capacity for identifying their feelings, they are often unable to tell when they feel tired, sick, hungry, anxious or depressed.
Along with their history of substance abuse, they usually have numerous other poor health habits, many smoke, many do not exercise or over exercise, have poor dietary regimes, and demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves. Such disturbances in self care also lead individuals to fail to be aware, cautious, worried or frightened enough to resist or avoid behavior that is self-injurious or damaging.
The road to recovery requires a careful balance between affect (emotional) release and affect (emotional) containment. Substance abuser's feelings must be delicately managed until they have enough sobriety and emotional stability to tolerate a closer look at their defective attachment styles. The potential for a relapse occurs when the substance abuser
feels too good or too bad too quickly.
Addiction as an Attachment Disorder - Flores