The Attachment Relationship in Recovery from Addiction. Part 1: Relationship Mediation


addiction, pair-bond attachment relationship, therapy, couple therapy


Incorporating the pair-bond attachment relationship into recovery from addiction represents a contextually inclusive perspective on the dynamics and consequences of addiction and the scope of influence and involvement that supports and strengthens an enduring recovery. Nevertheless, organizing the pair-bond attachment relationship to sponsor recovery requires attending to the unique vulnerability of this relationship to interactional volatility and emotional reactivity—in consequence of partners' reciprocal experience of addiction. The advent and refinement of relationship therapies and interventions has recently produced a developmental model for successfully engaging the pair-bond attachment relationship for recovery and relationship healing while circumnavigating its vulnerabilities to emotional reactivity and destructive interaction. We present an approach to relationships in recovery from addiction that focuses on successfully engaging the attachment relationship through a five-stage, three-component model of enactments—therapist-facilitated couple interaction that promotes softened, mutually supportive, and self-reliant couple interaction. Enacting the pair-bond attachment relationship, recovery from addiction, and partner and relationship healing are simultaneously and reciprocally pursued.

Original Publication Citation

Butler, M. H., & Seedall, R. B. (2006). The attachment relationship in recovery from addiction. Part 1: Relationship mediation. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 13(2-3), 289-315.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor