Am I An Alcoholic?
If you’ve ever felt like alcoholics on TV and in movies all resemble each other, you’re not alone. In reality, alcoholics come in many different forms. Addiction, whether to alcohol or drugs, is a chronic disease.
Researchers and medical professionals are still working hard to determine why some people become addicted while others do not. But one thing we do know is that every addiction is unique. Your experience and side effects won’t look the same as anyone else’s.
Nearly 18 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder. These disorders are never one-size-fits-all. Alcohol disorders can range from mild to severe. Many alcoholics continue to go to work, spend time with family and friends, and manage other daily responsibilities.
In the following sections, we will break down the risk factors and different types of alcoholics to give you a better idea of where you stand.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Disorders
The exact cause of alcohol use disorder is unknown. Currently, we have a deeper understanding of the risk factors that can increase your risk of developing it. Some of the most common risk factors for alcohol use disorder include:
- Having over 15 drinks per week if you’re male and over 12 drinks per week if you’re female.
- Having more than five drinks on the same day at least once per week.
- Having one or more parents with an alcohol use disorder.
- Having pre-existing mental health concerns, including anxiety disorders, depression, or schizophrenia.
- Having a high pressure or stressful work or school life.
- Having low self-esteem.
- Facing consistent peer pressure or spending time with others who treat alcohol abuse as something normal.
Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
The same way that your risk factors and side effects can vary, the symptoms of alcohol use disorder can vary, too. You may notice that you or your loved one has been drinking alone or dodging responsibilities to spend more time drinking.
You may also notice that you need to drink more to get drunk because your tolerance is higher than it used to be. Others battling alcoholism can become angry or violent when questioned about the frequency of their drinking.
Continuing to drink after problems arise, whether in your relationships, work, or finances, is another symptom of alcohol use disorder. And neglecting your hygiene or developing unhealthy eating habits due to uncontrollable alcohol intake are other signs of trouble.
Different Types of Alcoholics
Individuals battling alcoholism fall into several different categories:
- Young adult alcoholics
- Young antisocial alcoholics
- Functional alcoholics
- Intermediate familial alcoholics
- Chronic severe alcoholics
According to the same research that helped identify these different types of alcoholics, young adults account for more than half of alcoholics in the United States.
Young Adult Alcoholics
Young adult alcoholics are the largest group. They account for a total of about 32% of alcoholics in the country. This group is characterized by binge drinking rather than frequent drinking and has an average onset alcoholism age of 20.
Young Antisocial Alcoholics
In the young antisocial alcoholics’ group, the average age is 26. This group also tends to start drinking earlier than alcoholics in other categories, with most starting to drink by 15 and becoming alcoholics by 18.
More than half of the individuals in this category also have an antisocial personality disorder. Most also smoke marijuana or cigarettes. Because of these notable differences and the age gap, individuals in the young adult and young antisocial categories don’t overlap.
Functional alcoholics are often closer to middle-age. Functional is the keyword here. Most individuals in this category have stable marriages or relationships, are educated, they work, and have higher incomes than those in other groups.
Most functional alcoholics average five or more drinks per day every other day. Despite many media portrayals of alcoholism, it is possible to maintain a relatively normal social life, schedule, and career while battling alcohol use disorder.
Intermediate Familial Alcoholics
The intermediate familial group is about the same size as the functional alcoholics’ group. Each account for nearly 19% of all alcoholics in the country. In the intermediate group, individuals often start drinking around age 17 and become alcoholics early in their 30s.
Chronic Severe Alcoholics
At just 9% of the total, this is the smallest group on the list. Chronic severe alcoholics are typically men. Individuals in this category experience the highest divorce rates and are often also illicit drug users.
Many people are surprised to find that this stereotypical category is so small. When many of us imagine alcoholism, someone who fits into this category may be the first person that comes to mind. This proves that our first judgments are not always the most accurate.
Alcoholism is more common among youths and young adults than most of us previously realized. No matter what it looks like, alcohol use disorder is a severe disease that can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health.
Types of Alcoholics – Slang Names
Most people are more familiar with slang names than the groups listed above. You might recognize the terms binge drinker, weekend warrior, drunk, or wine-o rather than recognize the difference between a functional alcoholic and an intermediate familial alcoholic. And that’s okay.
We offer the knowledge, guidance, and care you need to leave your addiction behind you. No one expects you to have all the answers or to face your addiction on your own. The expert team at Pathfinders has decades of experience in addiction care.
The first step in getting help and building a better life is learning more about the problem itself. No matter what type of alcohol use disorder you have or what category you fall into, alcoholism gets worse over time and will not go away if you ignore it.
Determining What Types of Alcoholics You Are
If you are worried that you or someone you love is an alcoholic, the signs, symptoms, and risk factors listed above could help you make that determination. Not every alcoholic will struggle to get out of bed in the morning or hold down a job.
But not every alcoholic will find it easy to function, either. Every addiction is as unique as the person who is experiencing it. No matter which type of alcoholism you are battling, it is a battle just the same. And help is available to make it easier to overcome.
While the risk factors, signs, symptoms, and side effects may vary, each type of alcoholism can be improved with the right addiction treatments. At Pathfinders, we offer personalized and proven addiction treatments.
From full-time inpatient care to convenient and flexible part-time programs, we will meet you where you are in your recovery journey and help you get where you need to be. With safe, comfortable, and luxurious facilities in Colorado and Arizona, help is closer than you might think.
Seeking Help for Alcoholism
If you have experienced the symptoms above or are worried about someone you care about, don’t wait another day to seek treatment. Alcohol and drug addictions only get worse and harder to combat over time.
Call our addiction counselors any time, day or night, weekday, or weekend at 866-576-4892. They are on call to help confirm your insurance and start to put together a program that meets your unique addiction, goals, and recovery needs.