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For many, the term “alcoholic” brings about a certain image or idea. But not all alcoholics are the same.
Alcoholics can be separated into five different categories based on different factors.
Young adults under the age of 30 represent the largest groups of alcoholics in the United States, with college drinking and binge drinking being a major problem.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) studied alcoholics and how they differ.
Their research led to the development of five different subtypes. Each subtype is unique and offers a bit more insight into alcohol abuse.
Young adult alcoholics are the most common type of alcoholic, making up almost 32 percent of the total.
The average age of a young adult alcoholic is 24 years old. They're generally in college. They are 2.5 more times likely to be male than female.
Four out of five college students drink alcohol, often engaging in binge drinking.
The NIAAA reports over 1,500 college students die each year due to alcohol-related causes.
Other major traits of young adult alcoholics include:
Young antisocial alcoholics account for 21 percent of alcoholics. Seventy-five percent are male.
This group is characterized by an antisocial personality disorder, which includes behaviors such as criminal activity, lack of regard for safety, impulsiveness, deceitfulness, and lack of remorse
Their average age is 26 and they begin drinking at 15, with the start of dependency at 18.
This is the youngest onset of dependence of any of the categories.
Other common aspects of young antisocial alcoholics are:
This group has a high rate of family addiction history. When heavy drinking is the norm in a family, people tend to fall into drinking as normal behavior.
Intermediate familial alcoholics are more likely to have been genetically predisposed to alcoholism. They account for about 19 percent of all alcoholics.
They usually start drinking around age 17 and develop dependence around age 32. Their average age is 38. Sixty-four percent are male.
Other aspects of intermediate familial alcoholics include:
In many cases, you may not expect a functional alcoholic to have a problem. That's because they're able to balance their drinking with their personal and professional life.
Many of them don't believe they have a drinking problem until they start experiencing health issues.
Functional alcoholics account for 19.4 percent of all alcoholics. They usually begin drinking at 18, don't become dependent until around 37. They're typically in their 40s.
Other main characteristics include:
The chronic severe subtype is the least prevalent, accounting for only about 9 percent of alcoholics. However, this group is the most severe, with heavy drinking occurring almost daily.
Chronic severe alcoholics experience the highest rate of alcohol-related emergency room visits, professional and social problems, and withdrawal. They're usually unable to stop drinking on their own.
The average chronic severe alcoholic is 38 and male. Most had their first drink at 16, though didn't become dependent until around 29.
Other common characteristics include:
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), it’s important that you seek addiction treatment.
Contact a health professional or a local treatment center to review your rehabilitation options.
Luckily there are a number of treatment options for all types of alcoholics.
The most common types of alcoholism treatment are:
Inpatient treatment is the most intensive and effective type of addiction treatment.
Patients sleep at the treatment facility and undergo all portions of the program from detoxification to aftercare with medical supervision.
Outpatient treatment is a good option for people who have responsibilities that they cannot give up (such as family, work, or school), as well as a high level of motivation for getting sober.
If you are a good candidate, it may be advisable to undergo MAT.
A psychiatrist may prescribe medications (such as disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate) that are to help reduce cravings and encourage sobriety.
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