Are There Different Types of Alcoholism?

When people think about addiction to alcohol, they may not consider all the ways people become addicted. There is no typical form of alcoholism. There are generally five types, including young adults, familial, and chronic to severe alcoholism which take over people’s lives. Find out why these exist and how people navigate the challenges of alcoholism to find help in recovery.

Young Adult

Young adults are often a high-risk category for drinking behavior due to age or proximity to drinking culture in their friend groups or at home. Alcohol dependence develops early on, around the early twenties, and can impact a young person’s brain development. They are more likely to have attended college, work a professional job, and be unmarried at the time it begins, but they may seek treatment more than older people who have been drinking longer because they recognize the need for help sooner and have less to lose at that point.

Functional Alcoholism

People who struggle with functional alcoholism make up a small percentage of people with addiction. They tend to be middle-aged people, in their early forties, who start drinking later in their teen years and develop tolerance later in life. Depression can be higher for this group of people. Many members of this category of people struggle with smoking on top of their other addictions. They may have high education levels, income, and be married. Overall, they appear to be functioning at a higher level than others with addiction, but fewer will reach out for professional help.

Intermediate Familial

People who fall under this category tend to drink at a younger age (under 18) and develop tolerance earlier in their thirties. They are more likely to have immediate family members that struggle with alcoholism. They have a high probability of suffering from an anti-social personality disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar. They suffer from higher rates of cigarette, marijuana, and cocaine addiction. They may have a higher education level that most do, but not as high as the functional subtype. Their income levels tend to be lower, and they are less likely to seek treatment, but may do self-help groups, detox, or specialty programs at a higher rate.

Young Antisocial

This group of people with alcoholism are typically younger when they start (under age 16) and develop alcohol dependence at an earlier age, much quicker than others. They have high rates of depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive conditions. They have high rates of substance abuse disorders, including addiction to meth, cocaine, and opioids. They are less likely to:

  • Go to school
  • Experience higher-level jobs
  • Seek treatment until later
Chronic to Severe

For a small percentage of people with alcoholism, they may struggle with chronic to severe issues. They tend to start drinking at a young age and develop tolerance in their mid to late twenties. They may have close family members with alcoholism, experience depression, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. This group has a high rate of divorce and separation, with this group having the lowest education level of any subtype. They drink more frequently than others, but they are more likely to have sought help (often, several times) and have a higher rate of treatment at inpatient programs. They work with social workers, psychiatrists, and private practice doctors more frequently because of their chronic condition.Although these subtypes are helpful in knowing how people develop alcoholism or how to categorize some people, it is not always helpful for friends or loved ones to put people into boxes. Alcohol use disorder is not a box to check off, it is something where people need help to detox and go to rehab so they can find healing on the other side of addiction. The sooner they get help, the higher the chances of sticking with recovery for the long haul.

The Last Resort does not categorize people into boxes. Our goal is to identify the past history of alcohol use, why people use alcohol or drugs, and how to create an individual plan that works for them. We have professional staff and others here to help you navigate recovery. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.