The Role of Attachment in Families Affected by Substance Abuse and Vicarious Trauma


  • Stephanie Karlosky


Many studies have evaluated the role of attachment as it relates to substance abuse, mental health, trauma, and psychosocial functioning. Vicarious trauma, also known as secondary trauma, refers to alterations in perspectives resulting from prolonged engagement in another individual’s traumatic material. Research on vicarious trauma has focused on those in helping professions rather than the general population. The present paper will focus on the general population, specifically family system members over the age of 18, whom have been exposed to substance abuse by a separate family member. Research articles on substance abuse exposure, attachment, and vicarious trauma are briefly explained. To conclude, articles are explored and synthesized collectively, as studies have not focused on the correlation between these variables. The goal of this paper is to instigate research aimed at evaluating the family system’s experience of vicarious trauma stemming from substance abuse exposure, through the lens of Attachment Theory.






Education-Counseling and Psychology