Secure Human Attachment and Marijuana

Written by: Rebecca Baird
October 16, 2010

The word attachment, to most people, holds no special or new information. Most people when asked what attachment means to them would give the same answer which I gave “to be attached to something or someone in a special way.” That meaning is part of what attachment means, but there is much more involved when speaking in psychological terms. Attachment, according to Feldman (2006), is a word which describes the “emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular, special individual” (p. 200). Secure attachment is when the child and caregiver have a healthy attachment and the child feels safe and comforted by the caregiver. There are attachments which are not healthy and as a result, these types of attachment become a disorder and sometimes result in personality disorders and health issues later on in life.

A study done by Schindler et al. (2009) shows the relationship between human attachment disorders and the use of the substances; heroin, ecstasy, and cannabis. Three groups of non-clinical substance use participants were chosen. Of these three groups 22 were heroin users, 31 were ecstasy users, 19 were cannabis users, and the control group consisted of 22 secure, non-substance abuse participants. The study showed that opiates, such as heroin and ecstasy, are definitely used as a substitute to attachment and to relieve attachment related distresses. Schindler et al. stated that the use of heroin and ecstasy “result in physiological and emotional deactivation, in an inhibition of cognitive processes, and in withdrawal and distancing from others.” Participants who used cannabis were considered the most secure and less fearful than the ecstasy or heroin users. This study also showed that cannabis users had a good view of self and others, and were the most secure in human attachment. There was surprisingly no loss of work or school time due to the use of Cannabis. Where as heroin and ecstasy users all showed significant loss of work and school time because of their drug usage. Heroin abusers were categorized as fearful-avoidant; the most fearful of all three substance abuse categories. Ecstasy abusers were preoccupied-fearful.

Schindler, A., Thomasius, R., Petersen, K., & Sack, P. (2009). Heroin as an attachment substitute? Differences in attachment representations between opioid, ecstasy and cannabis abusers. Attachment & Human Development, 11(3), 307-330. doi:10.1080/14616730902815009.