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Types of Alcoholics

Written on: March 20th, 2009 By:

Types of Alcoholics

The automatic assumption is that everyone who has been labeled an alcoholic has the same or at least very similar characteristics. A medical study has revealed that there are actually five types of alcoholics. This may come as a surprise and also a welcome piece of information in addressing your own behavior or that of a loved one you suspect may be alcoholic, especially if you’re considering alcohol rehab. It’s not unusual for family members and friends to overlook certain drinking patterns and behaviors because the person in question doesn’t appear to “fit” the typical portrait of an alcoholic. He or she may be a professional and maintain what seems to be healthy personal relationships with others, a far cry from the chronic alcoholic hiding bottles in the clothes hamper.

Not all alcoholics demonstrate the same alcoholic tendencies, making it difficult at times to confirm whether or not someone has a problem with alcohol.   Identifying the five types of alcoholics brings society and medical professionals one step closer in the battle against alcohol and improving alcohol treatment.

The Five Types of Alcoholics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has identified five subtypes of the alcoholic.  These include:

Young adult alcoholics
Young adult alcoholics with antisocial diagnoses
Functional alcoholics
Intermediate familial alcoholics
Chronic alcoholics

Each one of these categories likely need professional help at an alcohol rehab in order to arrest the progression of alcoholism before it reaches the chronic stage. Once alcoholism is established it only progresses; even with abstinence, alcoholism progresses so if an individual picks up a drink even after years of sobriety it’s as if he or she never stopped drinking. This is why it’s imperative to arrest alcoholism at an early age. While those in the chronic stage are more in danger of hurting themselves or others, young adults need to receive alcohol treatment in order to avoid hitting this chronic stage later in life. Without abstinence, all alcoholics regardless of age and functionality will eventually hit the chronic stage or may die prematurely due to binge-drinking, alcoholic overdose or accidents.

Young Adult Alcoholics

It may come as a surprise that of the five types of alcoholics, there are two categories dedicated to young adult alcoholics. The first category comprised of teenagers and young adults actually makes up one of the largest categories of alcoholics.  Professionals and parents are all too aware of the enticing and problematic relationship between alcohol and young adults. Professionals categorize this type of alcoholism not as persistent alcoholism but rather excessive comprised more of binge-drinking at parties and weekend events. When teens and young adults drink in this fashion, it tends to be excessive which creates a greater risk of alcohol poisoning or an alcohol overdose.

The young antisocial adult alcoholic encompasses the same age group as the young adults but these young adults tend to participate in other illegal substances such as marijuana use, heroin, cocaine or meth typified by an outcast or antisocial behavior pattern.¬† These two categories are important to be aware of as many parents overlook a young adult‚Äôs alcoholic behavior and chalk it up to the awkward stage of adolescence.¬† The label of “alcoholic” is typically reserved for adults who have earned it with a lifetime of drinking and denial is common in addressing alcoholic behavior in young adults. Alcoholism crosses all boundaries of age, race, gender, culture and socioeconomic class.¬† Keeping this in mind will help those who are uncertain whether loved ones fall into the category of “alcoholic” and may need alcohol rehab to overcome it.

Other Types of Alcoholics

The NIAAA claims that approximately 19% of alcoholics are actually functional alcoholics who maintain a professional career and personal relationships.¬† People in this category are at risk of losing the precarious balance they’ve struck with alcohol and crossing the line into chronic alcoholism in the wake of a severe personal problem, such as a breakup, a death in the family or immense stress in their career.¬† Any stress or trauma of this nature can tip the scales from functional into severe alcoholism.

The most severe type of alcoholic is the chronic alcoholic after a lifetime of alcoholism. People in this category have lost the ability to function without alcohol and their struggle with alcoholism is reflected in their personal appearance and surroundings. They need alcohol to steady themselves for even simple tasks, hide liquor around the house, isolate from others, become easily agitated and volatile, and suffer uncomfortable and even severe withdrawal symptoms quickly if time has lapsed from one drink to another. Typically their appearance is slovenly, they’re underweight and malnourished and suffer serious health problems due to heavy drinking.

The only hope for an alcoholic of this nature is professional care at an alcohol rehab that can provide safe alcohol detox, individual alcohol treatment and the resources for immediate and continued abstinence.

SouthCoast Recovery Offers Alcohol Treatment for all Types of Alcoholics

Whether you’re a young adult alcoholic or are entering the chronic stages of alcoholism, we can help. SouthCoast Recovery offers specialized alcohol rehab programs for 30, 60, 90 days and 6 month residential alcohol treatment. Alcoholism cannot be arrested on its own. We provide state-licensed alcohol detox and a safe, supportive and sober environment with 24 hour care in the scenic harbor town of Dana Point, California. Our professional staff members have over 100 years combined in alcohol treatment and recovery. Clinical therapy combined with advanced holistic therapies within a 12-step model provide overall mind, body and spirit healing for a solid foundation in recovery. For more information on our alcohol rehab program and how we can help you overcome the debilitating disease of alcoholism before it’s too late, call us today. Professional intake coordinators are available 24/7.


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