5 Types of Alcoholism

types of alcoholismWhen you think of someone who might be classified as an alcoholic, what do you say about them? Do you consider them a functional alcoholic or a dysfunctional sort? Do you identify their alcoholism with legal trouble, or do you shrug it off as someone just having a good time?

According to American Medical News, there are five different types of alcoholics under a broader umbrella of alcoholism. While some sources say there are two differentiations, type I and type II, it appears that many can agree that those categories can be further broken down into five distinct categories of alcoholism. Before we delve into the five more specific categories, let’s take a look at the broader range of alcoholism.

2 ‘Types’ of Alcoholics

The two categories of alcoholics as defined by American Medical Network are type I and type II. Both have distinct differences, with type I alcoholics considered as those whose alcoholism developed at a later age and type II alcoholics being those persons who exhibited alcoholism in their earlier years. Aside from those differences, these types of alcoholics can be further segregated based on three criteria that indicate personality differences.

The three factors mentioned above are defined as low/high harm avoidance, in which persons either are cautious and apprehensive or confident and relaxed; low/high novelty, meaning that one sort is either rigid and reflective or impulsive and easily distracted; and low/high reward seeking, in which one type is more of a people-pleaser and emotionally dependent while the other is socially detached.

Breaking those up further, type I alcoholics tend to have high harm avoidance and reward-seeking behavior countered by low novelty. Type II persons can be seen as the opposite; they are considered high novelty with low levels of harm avoidance and reward-seeking behavior. Characteristically, type I tend to binge drink and abstain in intervals, have excessive guilt over drinking, and can be seen to progress from mild to severe alcoholism quite quickly. Type II people on the other hand may frequently be in legal trouble, get in fights, and show a relatively consistent level of alcoholism, as opposed to a rapid onset as illustrated in type I.

5 Specific Types of Alcoholism

A study issued by the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explored the drinking tendencies of a group of persons in order to classify them into varying degrees of alcoholism. They discovered five different kinds of alcoholics that range in age of onset and functionality. In brief, here are the findings from the research:

  • Young adult. Approximately 31.5 percent of study participants fit the criteria for young adult alcoholism. Persons in this category often drink in excess, but drink with less frequency. They also are likely to be involved in dangerous drinking habits (driving while intoxicated, for example) but have low instances of substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • Young antisocial. Like the above category in which alcoholism developed from an earlier age, young antisocial individuals comprise just a larger percentage of the participants at 21.1 percent. Persons in this category often met the criteria for antisocial personality disorder and other mental health problems (estimated 50 percent). Fortunately, about one-third do seek help for alcohol-related problems.
  • Functional. This type of alcoholism tends to develop in middle age and makes up about 19.4 percent of the respondent population. Functional alcoholics tend to have a history of alcohol-related issues in their families and about one-quarter met the criteria for clinical depression.
  • Intermediate familial. About 18.8 percent of participants fell into this category. Like functional alcoholics, those in this classification also had a history of family alcoholism. There was also a strong likelihood noted for the development of mental health and/or substance abuse issues. About 50 percent could be considered clinically depressed and 20 percent met the criteria for bipolar disorder.
  • Chronic severe. This category held the highest likelihood of comorbidity, and it’s thought that nearly 80 percent carry a strong family history of alcohol-related problems. This group, however, was most likely to be treated for alcoholism with a substantial majority (two-thirds) seeking help.

Does someone you know fit into any one of these categories? If so, it may be time to get help. Call The Oaks at La Paloma today to learn more about alcoholism and how it affects families, friends, and everyone it touches. Sobriety is possible and can be achieved with the proper support and guidance. Let the treatment coordinators at The Oaks at La Paloma help you discover life without alcohol.