Are There Different Types of Alcoholics?

An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is characterized by the chronic, compulsive use of alcohol despite the negative consequences on a person’s life. Alcohol is one of the most widely used addictive substances in the U.S., with 84% of adults aged 18 and older having tried it in their lifetimes.

A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) identified five different types of . Read on to learn more about the study’s findings.

Different Types of Alcoholics

As a complex disease, it should serve as no surprise that there are different types of alcoholics. According to a study by the NIAAA, there are five subtypes of alcoholism:

  • Chronic severe alcoholic: Nine percent of American alcoholics fit this subtype.
  • Functional alcoholic: Twenty percent of alcoholics in the US fit this subtype.
  • Young adult alcoholic: This is the largest subtype with 31.5 percent of American alcoholics falling into this group.
  • Young antisocial alcoholic: About 21 percent of alcoholics in the US fit this subtype.
  • Intermediate familial alcoholic: Nineteen percent of American alcoholics are contained in this subtype.

While over 6% of the American adult population suffers from AUD, only about 10% of those who need help for alcohol abuse and addiction actually seek out professional treatment, according to the NIAAA . By better understanding the different types of alcoholics, treatment methods can be personalized to the individual, making them more desirable and effective for a healthy recovery.

What Are the Risks of Alcohol Abuse?

Someone who drinks to excess on a regular basis can face very real health problems due to ongoing alcohol abuse. The British website DrinkAware points out that people who drink heavily over a period of several weeks or months can develop very high levels of alcohol-related enzymes in the gut. That means people who drink heavily often need to keep drinking heavily to feel the impact of alcohol. The body has become accustomed to alcohol, so smaller sips do not have the same power.

Drinking heavily can put a great deal of strain on the body, as each sip requires intense liver and kidney work. Those organs move into overdrive to clear alcohol from the blood, and constant exposure to alcohol can cause cell death in these organs. In extreme cases, these organs can stop functioning, and a transplant might be required.

In addition to kidney and liver damage, Mayo Clinic suggests that heavy drinking can cause:

  • Pancreatitis.
  • Certain types of cancer.
  • Stroke.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Sudden death for people who already have cardiovascular disease.
  • Heart damage.

Treating Alcohol Use Disorders

Regardless of the subtype, alcoholism is a treatable disease. Thorough assessments can help treatment providers to determine what the right type and level of care might be for a person battling alcohol addiction. For instance, when co-occurring mental health conditions are also present, an integrated treatment plan is ideal.

In the case of significant alcohol dependence, medical detox and medications are often necessary in addition to therapeutic treatment methods. Highly trained professionals can guide families and loved ones into a treatment program that will be optimal for enhancing a sustained recovery.

Talking to a Loved One About Getting Help

Dealing with a family member’s addiction can be overwhelming and stressful. One way to take action is to regularly have informal talks about your loved one’s drinking. Discuss your family member’s alcohol use openly and bring up the idea of treatment.

If your loved one is still high-functioning, they may be harder to persuade. But continue to discuss the real changes you have seen, even if they seem small, and point out how those changes worry you.

Understand it often takes many conversations like these for your family member to agree to consider treatment. You can also get help for yourself by attending groups like Al-Anon and Codependents Anonymous, where you can get support, learn more about the disease of alcoholism, and learn ways to create healthy boundaries for yourself and your family.

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction in Las Vegas

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance misuse or addiction, Desert Hope Treatment Center is here to help. Contact an admissions navigator today at to learn more about the available types of addiction treatment, such as outpatient and inpatient rehab in Las Vegas.

Our admissions navigators can also help you start the treatment admissions process, discuss ways to cover the cost of treatment, and help verify your insurance coverage.

You can also instantly for rehab online now.

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