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What are the 5 Types of Alcoholics?

Clinically Reviewed By Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
Updated On

Recent studies show that there are roughly eight million people in the United States who could be diagnosed for alcohol dependence.

While it is easy to believe that one person with this problem is the same as the next, nothing could be further from the truth. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are five distinct types of alcoholics, categorized as follows:

The Different Alcohol Types

Young adult subtype.

This group makes up approximately 32 percent of all alcoholics in the United States. These people are young adults who do not see the need to seek professional assistance for their problem. Even though those in this group tend to drink less than others, binge drinking is a problem.

Young antisocial subtype.

Making up 21 percent of United States alcoholics, people in this group are an average of 26 years old. More than half of these people also have an antisocial personality disorder. One of the differentiating factors of the young antisocial subtype is the average starting drinking age of 15.

Functional subtype.

This group accounts for 19 percent of alcoholics in the United States. For the most part, these people are middle age adults with an education, job, and stable relationships. They consume alcohol every other day, most of the time reaching five or more drinks.

Intermediate familial subtype.

Accounting for 19 percent of alcoholics in the United States, this subtype typically starts drinking by age 17 and many have others in their family who went down the same path.

Chronic severe subtype.

This may be the rarest group, accounting for nine percent of United States alcoholics, but it is also the most severe. Most people in this subtype are men, and it is associated with a high rate of divorce, financial problems, and the use of illegal drugs.

Most people classify an alcoholic as a middle age male with a life similar to the chronic severe subtype. It is important to note that there are many others who suffer from the same problem, including females, spanning a variety of age groups.

Regardless of the subtype, a person with an alcohol dependency can seek professional treatment to overcome their problem.



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