Emerging Adult Attachment and Alcohol Abuse Among American Indians Raised in Stepfamilies


American Indians, Native Americans, attachment, alcohol abuse, family relations, stepfamilies


Indigenous groups worldwide exhibit disproportionally high rates of alcohol abuse. Although researchers have explored how broad socio-economic conditions contribute to this challenge, much less is known about the influence of interpersonal bonds on alcohol abuse. Prior studies have shown that anxious and avoidant attachment styles are predictors of alcohol abuse; however, this relationship has not been examined among many indigenous populations, or among individuals raised in stepfamilies. To respond to these gaps, this study examined whether anxious and avoidant attachment styles predicted alcohol abuse among 340 American Indian emerging adults in the USA who were raised in stepfamilies. A graded response and structural equation model were constructed, wherein latent constructs of anxious and avoidant attachment predicted an ordinal dependent variable, alcohol abuse. Results showed that anxious attachment style significantly predicted an increase in the odds of advancing alcohol abuse (e.g. moving from the ‘None’ category to the ‘Once a month or less’ category). However, avoidant attachment style did not predict alcohol abuse. Findings suggest a potential vulnerability of abusing alcohol among American Indians who were raised in a stepfamily and developed an anxious attachment style.

Original Publication Citation

Kaitlin P Ward, Gordon E Limb, Emerging Adult Attachment and Alcohol Abuse Among American Indians Raised in Stepfamilies, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 49, Issue 6, September 2019, Pages 1452–1471.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



British Journal of Social Work




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor