Not All Alcoholics Are the Same
When we think of the term “alcoholics,” we think of individuals addicted to drinking alcohol.
For this reason, it is easy to lump everyone who is affected by alcohol addiction into a single group.
However, this kind of catch-all approach does not reflect the reality of alcohol addiction.
Current research shows there are five subgroups of people dealing with alcoholism.
No matter which of these groups you belong to, you will likely need help to recover your sobriety.
Additionally, it’s important to know that not everyone with serious drinking problems faces the same situation.
This kind of awareness gives doctors the ability to tailor treatment plans surrounding their specific needs and situation.
How Is Alcoholism Defined?
Before breaking down the sub-types of alcoholism, it helps to clarify what alcoholism itself means. Today, experts view alcoholism as part of an illness called alcohol use disorder (AUD).
- Regularly consuming more alcohol than you initially planned
- Repeated lack of success when you try multiple times to stop drinking
- Making drinking and drinking-related activities the focus of your day
- Needing more and more alcohol to feel like its effects on you
- Not quitting drinking after seeing its negative impact on your health
- Feeling a strong pull toward drinking when not consuming alcohol
- Experiencing withdrawal if you take a break from drinking or try to quit
You can be diagnosed with AUD if you have experienced two of these symptoms. You can also be diagnosed if you have just one symptom of alcoholism and one symptom of non-addicted alcohol abuse. The most severely affected drinkers typically experience six to 11 alcohol-related symptoms.
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The Five Types of Alcoholics
Being addicted to alcohol is just the baseline definition of alcoholism. To understand alcoholism better, researchers have studied the condition in greater detail.
There are a couple of reasons why this is significant. First, this additional information makes it possible for doctors to better understand their patients struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction. Moreover, it allows people affected by the illness to understand themselves better.
With all of this in mind, here are five subgroups of people affected by alcohol addiction.
Drinkers Who Are Young Adults
Young adults are people between the ages of 18 and 25. People in this age range make up a large percentage of all alcohol consumers in the U.S. They also make up a significant percentage of binge drinkers and heavy drinkers.
Roughly one-third of all Americans addicted to alcohol are young adults. People in this category are not as likely to have additional problems often found in heavy drinkers.
These problems include a family history of alcoholism. They also include the presence of other mental health issues, including additional substance addiction. If you belong to this subgroup of drinkers, chances are low that you have sought help for your problems.
Young People With Antisocial Tendencies
People who behave in antisocial ways do things that violate the norms of everyday behavior.
Some of these actions include stealing, invading other people’s personal space, and committing violent or aggressive acts. In some cases, these individuals may have an antisocial personality disorder.
About a fifth of all Americans addicted to alcohol are young adults in their 20s with antisocial tendencies. If you belong to this subgroup, you may also have:
- An anxiety disorder
- A bipolar illness
- Major depression
It is not uncommon for those affected to have an additional addiction to opioids or cocaine. There is also a very good chance that these individuals use marijuana or smoke cigarettes. Interestingly, antisocial problem drinkers often seek treatment. Over 33% of people in this category do so.
Functional alcoholics are addicted to alcohol and manage to maintain much of their daily competence.
For this reason, they may slip through the cracks when it comes to detecting an alcohol-related problem. Roughly one in five problem drinkers fit into this subgroup. These people tend to be in their 40s or 50s. They also tend to have a high level of education and meet their responsibilities at work and home. Many people in this category have parents or grandparents with alcohol problems. Cases of major depression are also relatively common. The same holds true for cigarette use.
Intermediate Familial Drinkers
People in this subgroup are middle-aged adults. About 50% have some diagnosable depression, and about 20% have bipolar disorder. The same holds true for marijuana and cocaine abuse. Close to 20% of all people with alcoholism belong to the intermediate familial subgroup. Unfortunately, one in four of these people are likely to seek treatment for their drinking.
Long-Term, Severe Drinkers
9% of those that struggle with alcoholism belong to this subgroup of long-term, severe drinkers. This group includes those most heavily affected by alcohol use disorder. It also consists of those most heavily affected by other mental health issues, including antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorders, and major depression.
The vast majority of long-term severe drinkers come from families with alcohol problems. People in this category also frequently suffer from addictions to substances such as:
It is common for severe alcoholics to seek treatment. This is the only subgroup where more than 50% of those affected seek help.
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Not Enough Alcoholics Enter Treatment
One glaring statistic holds true for most problem drinkers: They do not seek help for their alcohol use disorder. This is a truly unfortunate situation. Why? In the 21st century, there are multiple proven treatments for people affected by AUD.
Those treatments options include medication and supportive care that makes it possible to stop drinking. They also include medication and behavioral therapy to help you remain alcohol-free. This does not mean the road to sobriety is easy. Setbacks are common, and you will almost certainly have bad days while in alcohol rehab. Still, lasting sobriety is possible, and rehab programs help people make progress toward their recovery goals each and every day.
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Regardless of Your Sub-Type, Seek Help
Today, it is common for health insurance to cover the cost of an alcohol rehab program. Even if your insurance does not cover your treatment, you have a good chance of finding programs that provide alternative flexible payment options. This means that people in all kinds of financial situations can get the assistance they need.
The understanding that you belong to a subgroup of alcoholics does not need to be a negative realization. On the contrary, you can use this knowledge to learn more about your situation. You can also use it to focus on treatments known to have helped many people in similar circumstances. Experienced professionals in your program will help identify these treatments.
For information on how to get the help you need, contact Pathfinders today. Our addiction specialists will answer all of your questions about the available treatments. We also offer treatment services that benefit all types of problem drinkers.
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