Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jennifer Tippett, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Laurie Ivey, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Bradley McMillan, Ph.D.


Adverse childhood experiences, Substance use disorders, Attachment theory, Developmental trauma, Relational trauma

Publication Statement

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Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Research shows a correlation exists between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and poor mental health such as psychiatric and substance use disorders (Adshead, 2018). Research further suggests a correlation between ACEs and insecure attachment in adults (Adshead, 2018). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2020) estimates 85% of the correctional population either has a substance use disorder or was incarcerated for a drug-related offense. This paper theorizes that those involved in the correctional system with a history of high ACE scores and substance use also experience insecure attachment, which is not currently addressed in correctional SUD programs. Attachment theory moderates the relationship between ACEs and substance use disorders (SUDs). Treatment interventions should be targeted at the insecure attachment present in correctional populations. This paper postulates that successful treatment of attachment concerns will decrease substance use, and future research considerations are discussed.


46 pgs

Paper Method

Theoretical Analysis and Synthesis

Available for download on Monday, July 31, 2023