Alcoholism is a loaded term that in reality covers a wide spectrum of alcohol abuse and addiction. And under that umbrella of alcoholism there are many different ways that you can compare and characterize cases. One way that experts categorize types of alcoholism is by using five distinct categories, or subtypes: the young adult subtype, the young antisocial subtype, the functional subtype, the intermediate familial subtype, and the chronic severe subtype. While these five subtypes may not perfectly paint the picture of alcohol addiction, they do illustrate that alcohol addiction is a multifaceted disease that affect individuals from all walks of life, in a variety of ways. Here are a look at five major types of alcoholics.
Young adult subtype
About 32 percent of alcoholics in the U.S. fall under the young adult subtype. These young adults, who average at around 24 years of age and who have usually developed an addiction by 20, rarely seek help for their alcohol dependence. Young adult alcoholics tend to drink less frequently than those who fall under other subtypes, but they also tend to binge drink when they do drink.
Young antisocial subtype
The young antisocial subtype makes up about 21 percent of U.S. alcoholics. Young antisocials differ from young adults in that they more than half have antisocial personality disorder. They also tend to start drinking at a younger age—between 15 and 18 years of age. They are more likely to smoke marijuana and tobacco as well. These young individuals average at around 26 years of age.
Functional alcoholics account for about 19 percent of U.S. alcoholics, and they tend to be middle aged, working adults in stable relationships. These individuals tend to have higher education and more income as well. Functional alcoholics tend to drink every other day or so, consuming five drinks or more when they do drink.
Intermediate familial subtype
Individuals who fall into this category tend to have close relatives who are also alcoholics. They tend to start drinking by age 17 or so, developing an addiction in their 30s. This subtype makes up about 19 percent of U.S. alcoholics.
Chronic severe subtype
Chronic severe alcoholics make up the smallest percentage of alcoholics—just about 9 percent of all U.S. alcoholics. The chronic severe subtype mostly includes men, sees the highest divorce rate, and has the highest frequency of illicit drug use.