Are There Different Types of Alcoholics?
What are the different types of alcoholics? Are there seven types of alcoholics?
This is a common question, but it’s one that gets misconstrued.
While research has depicted seven types of alcoholics, we will discuss five types of alcoholics based on what we know about addiction at this time.
Understanding the types of alcoholics first relies on having an understanding of alcohol use disorder (AUD).
What is an Alcoholic?
An alcoholic is someone who meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a pattern of ongoing alcohol abuse.
Characteristics of alcohol use disorder include:
- Problems controlling your drinking
- Drinking even when it causes problems
- Being preoccupied or obsessed with drinking
You can have unhealthy drinking patterns without being an alcoholic.
For example, binge drinking is considered unhealthy drinking, which is especially common among young people.
However, not everyone who binge drinks meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
If your drinking causes distress or problems in your daily life, you likely would be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder.
As with other addictions, alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe.
What are the Symptoms of Being an Alcoholic?
An alcoholic is diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder based on a specific set of criteria.
This criterion typically includes:
- Being unable to limit how much you drink
- Trying and being unsuccessful at cutting down how much you drink
- Spending much of your time getting alcohol, drinking, or recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Not meeting obligations because of alcohol
- Continuing to drink despite problems in relationships, at work, or school
- Developing a tolerance requiring you to drink more to get the same effects
- Being dependent on alcohol and having withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink
Types of Alcoholics
As was mentioned above, some people believe there are seven types of alcoholics.
In reality, there are likely closer to five types.
These are also called subtypes of alcoholics.
Young Adult Subtype
Among the types of alcoholics, the young adult subtype is the most common.
This type of alcoholic refers to people between the ages of 18 and 25.
Within this group, the average age at which someone develops an alcohol addiction is 20 years old.
Someone in a young adult subtype might drink less than other types of alcoholics.
However, they will often binge drink when they do.
Someone who is a young adult subtype alcoholic might have an average of 14 drinks a day when they drink.
This group, among other types of alcoholics, is the least likely to get help.
The reduced number of people seeking treatment in this group is because it is usually seen as normal.
When you’re a young adult, partying and drinking may seem like something everyone is doing at that age.
Young Antisocial Subtype
Another type of alcoholic is known as the young antisocial subtype.
These are people who are young adults and may have antisocial personality disorders.
There may be other mental health issues that occur along with a personality disorder.
People who fall into the young antisocial subtype group tend to behave recklessly, increasing the likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder.
Functional alcoholics is another subtype of alcoholics that many people have heard of or are familiar with.
Functional alcoholics don’t always appear to have an alcohol use disorder.
This type of alcoholism generally appears during middle age.
Someone who is a functional alcoholic will often live a completely normal life and can even be very successful.
However, they might drink excessively in the evenings — often as a way to relax.
Some of the issues of functional alcoholism include that it can cause physical health problems.
Problematic patterns of drinking can also be troublesome in terms of relationships.
It is challenging for functional alcoholics to realize there is a problem.
This makes them less likely to seek treatment.
Intermediate Familial Subtype
Someone with a family history of alcoholism may have an intermediate family subtype.
This can stem from different scenarios depending on the specific circumstances.
If someone is raised in an environment of heavy drinking, they may begin to replicate the same patterns.
There may also be a genetic component.
We know that one of the underlying risk factors for alcoholism is genetics.
People in the intermediate familial subtype often have co-occurring mental health problems, such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder.
These mental health conditions have a genetic component as well.
Chronic Severe Subtype
In most cases, chronic severe subtype is the most damaging subtype compared to the different types of alcoholics.
Someone who is in the chronic severe subtype will often drink excessively daily.
Someone who falls under this type of alcoholic is likely to have many physical and lifestyle factors destroyed as a result. Unfortunately, they continue to drink.
Physical dependence is prominent in the severe chronic subtype.
This means that if someone tries to change their drinking patterns, they will likely experience intense withdrawal symptoms.
Around 80% of people in the severe chronic subtype have a familial and genetic alcoholism link.
Someone in this category is also more likely to abuse other drugs too.
If you are concerned about your drinking patterns or someone else’s drinking habits, the below questions are ones you may want to ask yourself or your loved one to determine if there is a problem or not.
- Do you have a problem stopping drinking once you start?
- Do you lose control when you start drinking?
- Do you want to stop drinking but find that you aren’t able to?
- Do you have cravings for alcohol?
- Do you keep using alcohol even though it’s causing problems in relationships?
- Do you ever give up activities to drink instead?
- Do you drink when it’s risky to do so?
- Do you need alcohol to feel “normal?”
Help for Different Types of Alcoholics?
If you recognize the signs or symptoms of alcoholism either in yourself or someone you care about, treatment options are available.
The type of treatment you may benefit most from can depend on the category you fall into.
For example, if you’re a functional alcoholic, outpatient treatment may work well for you. This would allow you to continue living and working as normal but receive treatment at the same time.
For someone who is a chronic severe alcoholic, treatment would likely need to be much more intensive.
Treatment might include a supervised medical detox to deal with dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Then, someone who is a chronic severe alcoholic might start an inpatient program.
Following inpatient treatment, they could live in a sober living house and begin their relapse prevention plan.
Paying for Treatment
If someone is an alcoholic, they should seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Alcoholism of any kind is a progressing, chronic illness.
This means the longer it goes untreated, the worse the symptoms and outcomes will likely be.
If you are looking for treatment programs, contact North Jersey Recovery Center.
Our program options range from intensive residential treatment to outpatient care.
Our team can verify your insurance coverage to help determine the costs of addiction treatment.
There are five different types of alcoholics.
Understanding what these are can help you better identify a problem, whether in yourself or in someone you love.
When you know what type of alcoholic you are, you can also identify what treatment programs could be best.