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Understanding the 5 Types of Alcoholism

If you feel that alcohol is endangering you or someone else, call 911 or obtain similar help right away. Research suggests that individuals in the Young Antisocial subtype tend to have a family history of alcoholism and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. This subtype is more common in men and is characterized by a more stable life than the Young Adult and Young Antisocial Subtypes. Individuals with the Intermediate Familial Subtype often have stable relationships and hold steady jobs, but they still struggle with AUD. They may drink to cope with stress or anxiety and have difficulty controlling their alcohol intake. Many individuals with functional alcoholism may continue to consume alcohol without seeking help for years or even decades, leading to more severe forms of alcohol addiction.

People who consistently misuse alcohol over time are also at greater risk of developing alcohol use disorder. You have probably heard someone at some point referred to as a “functional alcoholic.” This means they have a problem with alcohol abuse but can still function at work and participate in family life. This is a third category identified by the NIAAA study, and 19.5%3 of those with alcoholism fall into this category. Individuals with chronic severe alcoholism need comprehensive treatment that addresses their physical and psychological needs. Long-term sobriety may be difficult to achieve, but with the appropriate treatment and support, individuals with chronic severe alcoholism can achieve and maintain recovery.

Are There Different Types Of Alcoholics?

The Young Adult Alcoholic Subtype, however, has a relatively low rate of mental health disorders along with alcoholism, a condition called a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. If an individual does not withdraw safely, then they risk a host of issues. This can include the development of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) – a broad term that includes multiple severe withdrawal symptoms and can make future rehabilitation a far longer and more complex process (2).

5 types of alcoholics

Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain. A heavy drinking binge may even cause a life-threatening coma or death. This is of particular concern when you’re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function. Because denial is common, you may feel like you don’t have a problem with drinking. You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use.

Alcohol Dependence (Alcoholism)

Remember, recovery is possible – take the first step towards a better future today. Encouraging your loved one to seek professional help is the best way to support them in their journey towards recovery. You can also offer emotional support and attend therapy or support groups together. It’s important to avoid enabling behaviors like providing money for alcohol or making excuses for their behavior. Called “maintenance drinkers,” delta alcoholics are unable to skip a day without drinking, but since they can control how much they drink, they often do not look or feel drunk. Yet, physical deterioration still happens, albeit much more gradually.

5 types of alcoholics

The chronic severe subtype is the rarest subtype, accounting for about 9 percent of U.S. alcoholics. This subtype mainly includes men, has the highest divorce rate, and frequently includes users of illicit drugs. They have low rates of co-occuring mental health issues and having an alcoholic family member.

Intermediate familial alcoholics

According to the NIAAA report3, individuals in this category tend to be middle-aged, well-educated and employed with stable families. About half are smokers, and one-quarter of them suffer from depression at some point during their lives. Finally, there is a history of alcoholism within multiple familial generations for one-third of alcoholics in this subtype. A chronic severe alcoholic is a person who is physically alcohol dependent and experiences severe withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit. They may also have other health issues related to their alcohol consumption.