5 Types of Alcoholics

Monday, July 16, 2018 | By Chris Clancy

alcoholic man

Alcohol has long been a controversial substance. From the prohibition to now, the United States has gone from entirely banning alcohol use to socially accepting it with open arms. Today, approximately 15 million people in the country are suffering from alcohol use disorder.

When alcohol use disorder is occurring within an individual’s life, he or she can begin suffering both physically and psychologically. For starters, an alcoholic can begin letting go of responsibilities, arguing with loved ones, getting in trouble at work, and so on. He or she can begin to socially isolate him or herself, cutting off once important relationships, and becoming unable to participate in daily tasks. He or she might behave in a deceitful manner, become secretive about his or her alcohol intake, or start asking to borrow money but never repaying it.

As previously stated, millions of people within the United States are struggling with alcohol use disorder. However, not all of those individuals fit the typical image of what an alcoholic “should” look like. Instead, there are several different kinds of alcoholics, all of whom display their own symptoms and effects of their drinking patterns.

5 Types of Alcoholics

Despite popular belief, not all alcoholics are the same. Each individual requires his or her own personalized care if he or she attempts to obtain professional treatment. One of the best ways to apply the most effective care for an individual is to determine what kind of alcoholic he or she is. Doing so will allow professionals to tailor the treatment they provide.

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult alcoholic is the most common type of alcoholic out of the five different types. This kind of alcoholism most often occurs in young individuals in their late teens and early twenties. In fact, the average young adult alcoholic is 24 years old. The young adult drinker does not fit the stereotype of an alcoholic, as they do not drink on a daily basis, rather participate in binge drinking instead. It has been reported that out of the days that the young adult alcoholic uses, 73% of those days are spent drinking five or more drinks, which is classified as binge drinking. Binge drinking days can even include an individual drinking an average of 14 drinks in one day.

Young adult alcoholics historically do not struggle with mental illness in the same way that other alcoholics do, however they do partake more in smoking cigarettes and marijuana. Sadly, not even 10% of this population reaches out for professional help.

Young Antisocial Subtype

21% of all alcoholics are young antisocial alcoholics. Different from young adult alcoholics, the majority of these individuals have antisocial personality disorder. This specific disorder is characterized by symptoms such as constant criminal behavior, irresponsibility, lack of remorse of the safety of others, frequent fights, and deceitfulness. Individuals who fit the young antisocial subtype are, on average, 26 years old and began drinking around age 16.

Binge drinking is common amongst young antisocial alcoholics, but unlike young adult alcoholics, the average number of drinks they consume on a binge-drinking day is 17. More men than women are young antisocial alcoholics, and these individuals are more likely to abuse other substances like marijuana, cocaine, opioids, and amphetamines.

It is common for someone in this grouping to reach out for help, however through self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

alcoholic woman

Functional Subtype

Functional alcoholics are just that – functional. Most people stigmatize alcoholism in a manner that makes it seem like anyone who struggles with alcoholism is unable to function on any kind of level. However, that is simply not the case with functional alcoholics. Nearly 20% of all alcoholics are functional alcoholics and are employed. In fact, the average income for this subtype is $60,000/year. A quarter of these individuals have a college degree or higher, and approximately 30% have a family history of alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, less than 20% of functional alcoholics have sought treatment for their condition. The treatment they reach out for includes 12-Step programs and private treatment facilities.

Most individuals in the functional subtype are older, with the average age of this type of alcoholic being 41 years old. When alcohol is consumed (which is usually every other day), these individuals consume five alcoholic beverages or more.  

Intermediate Familial Subtype

Intermediate familial alcoholics are of the average age of 38 and have been drinking since around the age of 17. Almost half of the individuals with this kind of alcoholism have a family member who also struggles with alcoholism.

On the days that an intermediate familial alcoholic does drink, he or she can consume anywhere between five to ten alcoholic beverages. In addition, these individuals are more likely to also have a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. They also have higher rates of other substance use disorders, including substances like cocaine and marijuana.

Employment rates are highest amongst this group, with 68% of individuals being employed. Roughly 27% of intermediate familial alcoholics have gotten help for their substance use disorder, which usually is obtained through detox centers, private treatment centers, and 12-Step groups.

Chronic Severe Subtype

The chronic severe alcoholic is most rare, however, often fits the projected image that people may have of an alcoholic. Someone who is a chronic severe alcoholic is the average age of 38, began drinking around 16, and became dependent on alcohol around 29 years old. Most chronic severe alcoholics are men, while 25% of individuals are divorced and 8.6% are separated. 28.7% of chronic severe alcoholics are married.

Employment rates are lower in this group of alcoholics than in any other group and have more individuals addicted to drugs and/or alcohol within their family. Roughly 55% of chronic severe alcoholics have depression, 47 % have antisocial personality disorder, and 34% have bipolar disorder.

Get Help

If you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, reach out for help. No matter what kind of alcoholic you might be or how functional you are, alcohol use disorder is best treated through professional care such as that offered at our alcohol treatment center.

So do not wait any longer to obtain the treatment that you need in order to get on the right path towards recovery. At Bowling Green, we can help you overcome your challenges as they relate to your alcohol use disorder, and guide you towards living a life that is free from alcoholism for good.

Contact us right now. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan unique to your needs so that you can comprehensively address all of your needs. Let us help you.

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