The Different Types of Alcoholics | Futures of Palm Beach
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The Different Types of Alcoholics

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Any drinking that results in intoxication and impairs the safe and healthy decision-making skills of the drinker is considered problem drinking. If drinking large amounts of alcohol in an evening happens frequently, then it is called binge drinking. If the person drinks regularly and often and in larger and larger amounts, then it is termed alcohol abuse, but when the drinker develops a psychological and physical dependence upon the substance, they are then classified as an alcoholic.Which one describes your loved one, and does it affect how inpatient treatment should be chosen or carried out?

According to WebMD, there are five different types of alcoholics, including:

  1. Young adult
  2. Young antisocial
  3. Functional
  4. Intermediate familial
  5. Chronic severe

When Should You Seek Treatment for Alcoholism?

Young Adult Alcoholics

About 32 percent of alcoholics in the United States are believed to fall into this subtype, says WebMD. The following characterizes this group:

32% of All Alcoholics are Young Adults

  • Average age of 24
  • Usually drinking heavily by the age of 20
  • Binge drinking but drinking less often than other subtypes

Unfortunately, this type of alcoholic is not likely to seek treatment for their alcohol abuse problem. Many deny that it is an issue and instead define it as a lifestyle choice, appropriate for their age group or that they are just “having a good time.”

Young Antisocial Alcoholics

This is believed to be the second largest alcoholic subtype in the United States. Some characteristics include:

  • Average age of 26
  • Earlier onset of alcoholism (often by age 18)
  • More than 50 percent diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder
  • Increased chance of co-occurring addiction to marijuana or cigarettes

Rate diagnosed with an antisocial disorder


This type can be exceedingly difficult to treat due to the issues created by antisocial personality disorder, but it may be more quickly identified by loved ones because it begins at an earlier age.


This type of alcoholic often escapes treatment for years. To most people, they seem to have a “normal” relationship with alcohol and still manage to maintain employment and take care of their families. They are often characterized as:

  • Middle-aged
  • Employed
  • Engaged in a stable relationship
  • Educated
  • High income
  • Daily drinker, five or more drinks a day

Intermediate Familial

The defining characteristic of this type of alcoholic is the high likelihood that their alcohol problem may in part be caused by a genetic predisposition to the development of the disorder and the high number of family members who also struggle with alcoholism. Because so many people in their immediate environment are often drinkers, it can be difficult to extricate themselves from the lifestyle without making major changes that start with residential rehab.

Chronic Severe

It is estimated that only about 9 percent of alcoholics fall into this category; it is the rarest subtype. Men more often fall into this category, and other drug use is also often a problem.

Does Type Affect Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Determining the different types of alcoholics can help inpatient treatment programs build a custom treatment program that will have the highest level of success. A study published in the Archives of General Psychology found that understanding the types of alcoholics and the underlying issues and driving forces of their experience can be a huge help in determining the most proactive course of treatment.

However, other studies (British Journal of Addiction) suggest that unless antisocial personality disorder is present – a disorder that would indicate more issues that must be addressed intensively during treatment in order to successfully maintain sobriety for the long-term – there is no substantial difference between how treatment should be approached according to alcoholic types. The fact is that alcohol addiction is a highly personal experience, changed and altered according to a number of different factors including genetic predisposition, environmental influence, personality and more. Treatment should, therefore, be just as personal, providing patients with the unique treatment options they need to learn how to cope effectively with their personal challenges. Contact us at Futures of Palm Beach today to learn more about how we design personalized treatment programs for those who are in need of alcohol addiction treatment.

If you are in need of addiction treatment, call for Futures for help today (866) 351-7588!

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