Over 6 percent of American adults battled alcohol use disorder as of 2015. Sadly, less than 10% of those received professional treatment for the disease. There are a few theories as to why this discrepancy exists. One issue is that those who drink, even problematically, do not see the need for help. This is especially true of those who do not fit the stereotypical alcoholic role. Friends and family members may be more willing to overlook excessive drinking and related issues if the drinker has their life together with a job, stable home life, or no history of alcoholism. This is in part because people are not well versed in the types of alcoholics.
There are five types of alcoholics. All of which will be explained below. These include several types of alcoholics that may be overlooked in society.
- Young adult subtype
- Young antisocial subtype
- Functional subtype
- Intermediate familial subtype
- Chronic severe subtype
By understanding each of these subgroups a person can gain a better understanding of themselves or their loved ones. This can also help identify the best treatment plan for each type of alcoholic.
Young Adult Alcoholic
This is the largest group and subtype of alcoholics with as many as 31.5% of all alcoholics in this subtype in the United States. The members of this group are usually in their late teens or early twenties. They are either just at legal drinking age or under. Many of these young adults are college students enjoying the freedom away from home for the first time. Involved in a culture that often promotes excessive drinking.
These underage drinkers are often binge drinkers. They often drink more in a single setting than most older drinkers drink in the same amount of time. People who fall into the young alcoholic subtype rarely have a family history of alcoholism. Even though alcoholism is considered a heritable disease. However, the environmental factors make up a large risk for this group. Excessive drinking on a regular basis, living in a pro-drinking environment, and drinking before the brain is fully formed can contribute to the onset of alcoholism. Nearly one-third of all alcoholics fit into this category.
Young Antisocial Alcoholic
This is a subgroup of alcoholics that is generally in their mid-twenties. Yet started drinking young. As alcohol impacts the brain chemistry and regular exposure to these types of substances can change how the brain’s circuitry works. An individual may suffer from cravings and withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not present in the blood stream. Which encourages further drinking. At such a young age the brain has not fully developed in the prefrontal cortex which results in a difficulty in controlling emotions and impulses. This makes them more likely to take bigger risks without the fear of consequences.
Those who fall into the antisocial personality disorder commonly have a comorbid mental disorder. Including that of antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. As many as three-fourths of those that fall into this category also smoke marijuana and cigarettes. Furthermore, many struggle with opioid or cocaine addictions. Multiple drug abuse and co-occurring disorders when combined with alcohol abuse can increase the risk of addiction and cause problems with treatment. Only around a third of these individuals will seek treatment willingly.
Functional alcoholics are most typically middle aged, well educated, and may appear to have it all together when viewed by others. It is likely that those in this category of alcoholics will have a steady job and behave normally. But be compartmentalizing their life. These individuals may drink in private and behave like fully functional adults in public. Unlike many alcoholics, a functional alcoholic will likely fulfill the majority of their regular obligations consistently. Family members may enable this drinking by making excuses when an alcoholism issue occurs.
A functional alcoholic may not ever hit ‘rock bottom’ as they tend to be successful in most parts of life. Therefore, they tend to deny having a problem or seek professional help. While the functional alcoholic may be great at covering up emotional distress and alcohol issues, they are also more likely to smoke cigarettes and hold a family history of alcoholism. About one quarter will also have at least one major depressive episode in life.
Intermediate Familial Alcoholics
Intermediate familial alcoholics make up about 19 percent of all American alcoholics. This category of alcoholics typically comes from a family with multi-generational alcoholism and is middle-aged. They tend to smoke cigarettes and about one-fifth also struggle with marijuana and cocaine abuse. Many also suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and mood swings then use alcohol as a form of treatment.
Chronic Severe Alcoholics
This is the category that most people picture when the term alcoholic is utilized. This only accounts for about 9 percent of the United States alcoholic population. Chronic severe alcoholics are likely to have started drinking at a young age. Though they are probably now middle aged. This group tends to struggle with a high rate of antisocial personality disorder. Furthermore have a regular issue with the law. So legal or criminal struggles as well. This is because aggression can be caused by the alcohol.
Chronic severe alcoholics tend to experience severe life issues related to the drinking or related drug dependence. They may experience job loss, relationship issues, homelessness, and health issues among other problems. This subgroup is heavily represented in alcohol treatment programs as the problem is often obvious.
Getting Help at DARA
If you or a loved one appears to fall into any of these subgroups or has a problem with alcohol and other drugs, then seek help as soon as possible. While it is best to seek treatment early, treatment at any point can be beneficial. DARA offers affordable, high-end resort style facilities in various countries around the world.
DARA seeks to work with each individual to improve the mind, body, and spirit while educating the addict in addictive properties and the tools necessary to reenter the real world. As soon as you or your loved one is ready, give DARA a call to book a spot. You are worth getting your life together to enjoy the best you that you can be.
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