The 5 Types Of Alcoholics

Unveiling the 5 types of alcoholics: Dive into their characteristics, behaviors, and treatment options for recovery.

Published On

January 3, 2024

Understanding Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a complex and multifaceted disorder that affects individuals from all walks of life. To gain a deeper understanding of this condition, it is important to explore its definition, overview, and the complexity it entails.

Definition and Overview

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease characterized by an individual's inability to control or stop their consumption of alcohol despite experiencing negative consequences. It is a progressive condition that can have severe physical, psychological, and social repercussions.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines specific criteria for diagnosing alcohol use disorder. These criteria include factors such as the inability to cut down or control alcohol consumption, cravings or strong urges to drink, and continued alcohol use despite adverse effects on relationships or work performance.

The Complexity of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a complex disorder that can manifest in various ways, making it crucial to recognize and understand the different types of alcoholics. By identifying these subtypes, professionals can develop tailored treatment plans to address individual needs effectively.

The types of alcoholics recognized by researchers and clinicians include:

  1. Young Adult Subtype: This subtype typically involves individuals who develop alcohol use disorders at a young age. They often engage in binge drinking and may experience concurrent substance abuse issues.
  2. Young Antisocial Subtype: Individuals in this subtype exhibit antisocial behaviors and may meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder. They are prone to impulsivity, aggression, and legal problems.
  3. Functional Subtype: Functional alcoholics are often high-functioning individuals who maintain their personal and professional lives despite significant alcohol consumption. They may not exhibit obvious signs of a problem to those around them.
  4. Intermediate Familial Subtype: This subtype includes individuals with a family history of alcoholism. Genetic factors play a significant role in their susceptibility to alcohol use disorders.
  5. Chronic Severe Subtype: Individuals in this subtype experience severe alcohol dependence, often with a long history of alcohol abuse. They may face multiple health issues and struggle to function without alcohol.

Understanding the different types of alcoholics can help individuals and their families recognize behavioral patterns and seek appropriate support. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be struggling with alcoholism, it is essential to seek professional help. Treatment options, such as therapy, support groups, and interventions, can provide guidance and support for recovery.

Alcoholism is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive approach to treatment and support. By raising awareness and understanding the various aspects of alcoholism, we can foster a more informed and compassionate society.

The Types of Alcoholics

Alcoholism is a complex disorder that can manifest in different ways. Understanding the various types of alcoholics can provide valuable insights into the nature of alcohol addiction. Here, we explore five main subtypes of alcoholics: the young adult subtype, the young antisocial subtype, the functional subtype, the intermediate familial subtype, and the chronic severe subtype.

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult subtype refers to individuals who develop alcohol dependence early in life. Typically, this subtype includes individuals in their late teens to early twenties who struggle with alcohol addiction. They may have a higher risk-taking behavior, engage in binge drinking, and often have a lower level of alcohol tolerance compared to other subtypes.

Young Antisocial Subtype

The young antisocial subtype is characterized by individuals who exhibit both alcohol addiction and antisocial behavior. These individuals may have a history of conduct disorder and may continue to engage in criminal activities or display impulsive behaviors. They often struggle with interpersonal relationships and may be prone to aggression or violence when under the influence of alcohol.

Functional Subtype

The functional subtype is unique in that individuals in this category are able to maintain a relatively normal life despite their alcohol addiction. Often, these individuals are high-functioning, maintaining stable jobs, relationships, and responsibilities. They may hide their alcohol consumption and may not display obvious signs of intoxication. However, their alcohol dependence can still have negative consequences on their physical and mental health in the long term.

Intermediate Familial Subtype

The intermediate familial subtype represents individuals with a family history of alcoholism and a genetic predisposition to addiction. These individuals may have relatives who also struggle with alcohol dependency. They are more likely to develop alcohol-related problems due to both genetic and environmental factors. Understanding the role of family history can help identify potential risk factors for alcoholism.

Chronic Severe Subtype

The chronic severe subtype encompasses individuals who face the most severe and chronic issues related to alcohol addiction. They often experience significant life disruptions, such as job loss, relationship breakdowns, and legal problems, as a result of their alcohol dependency. These individuals may require intensive treatment and support due to the severity of their addiction.

By recognizing the different types of alcoholics, professionals can tailor treatment approaches, interventions, and support systems to address the unique needs of each subtype. However, it's important to note that these subtypes are not mutually exclusive, and individuals may exhibit characteristics of multiple subtypes. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, seeking professional help and support is crucial.

Characteristics and Behaviors

Alcoholism is a complex disorder that manifests differently in individuals. Understanding the characteristics and behaviors associated with each type of alcoholic can provide insights into their unique challenges and treatment needs. Let's explore the five types of alcoholics: young adult subtype, young antisocial subtype, functional subtype, intermediate familial subtype, and chronic severe subtype.

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult subtype refers to individuals who develop alcohol dependence during their late teens or early twenties. This group often exhibits impulsive behavior, engages in high-risk activities, and struggles with emotional instability. They may consume alcohol excessively in social settings and are more likely to engage in binge drinking. Despite these tendencies, individuals in this group may not display severe physical or psychological consequences early on.

Young Antisocial Subtype

The young antisocial subtype is characterized by a combination of alcohol dependency and antisocial personality disorder. Individuals in this group often exhibit aggressive and impulsive behavior, disregard for social norms, and a lack of empathy. They may have a history of legal issues, substance abuse, and difficulties maintaining stable relationships. Alcohol serves as a coping mechanism for their antisocial tendencies, exacerbating their behavioral issues.

Functional Subtype

The functional subtype refers to individuals who are typically middle-aged, well-educated, and employed. They are high-functioning individuals who may appear successful and in control of their lives, despite their alcohol dependency. These individuals often maintain steady jobs, fulfill familial responsibilities, and may even deny or hide their drinking problem. However, they rely on alcohol to cope with stress and may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. Recognizing the signs of a functioning alcoholic is essential in identifying this subtype.

Intermediate Familial Subtype

The intermediate familial subtype is characterized by a strong family history of alcoholism. Individuals in this group often have at least one close family member who struggles with alcohol addiction. They may have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism and face an increased risk of developing alcohol dependency themselves. Environmental factors, such as growing up in a household with alcohol abuse, can also contribute to their alcohol-related behaviors.

Chronic Severe Subtype

The chronic severe subtype represents individuals with the most severe and debilitating form of alcoholism. This group experiences significant physical, psychological, and social consequences due to their alcohol dependency. They may have a long history of heavy drinking, suffer from severe health complications, and face challenges in maintaining stable relationships and employment. Treatment for individuals in this subtype often requires intensive intervention and ongoing support.

Understanding the characteristics and behaviors associated with each subtype of alcoholism can aid in tailored treatment approaches and support strategies. It's important to remember that these subtypes are not mutually exclusive, and individuals may exhibit traits from multiple subtypes. Recognizing the nuances of alcoholism can pave the way for effective interventions and promote long-term recovery.

Treatment and Support

When dealing with alcoholism, seeking the appropriate treatment and support is crucial for recovery. Different individuals may require different approaches based on their specific needs and circumstances. In this section, we will explore some common treatment options and support systems available for individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Seeking Professional Help

For many individuals, seeking professional help is an essential step towards overcoming alcoholism. Professionals such as doctors, therapists, and addiction specialists can provide guidance, support, and evidence-based treatment options. They can assess the severity of the alcohol use disorder and develop personalized treatment plans tailored to the individual's needs.

Professional help may include medical detoxification, where individuals are guided through the process of safely withdrawing from alcohol under medical supervision. Medications may also be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or motivational enhancement therapy (MET), can help individuals identify and change harmful thought patterns and behaviors associated with alcohol use. Family therapy can also be beneficial, as it addresses the impact of alcoholism on the individual's relationships and offers support to loved ones.

Support Groups and Therapy

Support groups and therapy play a vital role in the recovery process. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most well-known support groups for individuals seeking sobriety. AA follows a 12-step program that emphasizes self-reflection, acceptance, and ongoing support from peers who have faced similar challenges. Other support groups, such as SMART Recovery, provide alternative approaches to achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Individual therapy can complement support group participation by providing a safe space for individuals to explore deeper issues related to their alcohol use and develop coping strategies. Therapists can help individuals address underlying emotional or psychological factors that may contribute to alcoholism.

Recovery and Relapse Prevention

Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing process that requires commitment and effort. Relapse prevention strategies are crucial to maintaining sobriety in the long term. These strategies may include:

  • Developing a strong support system: Surrounding oneself with supportive and understanding individuals who can provide encouragement and accountability.
  • Learning healthy coping mechanisms: Developing alternative ways to manage stress, anxiety, and other triggers without resorting to alcohol.
  • Making lifestyle changes: Adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise, proper nutrition, and engaging in activities that promote overall well-being.
  • Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding situations, people, or places that may tempt the individual to drink.
  • Engaging in ongoing therapy or counseling: Continuously addressing and working through the underlying causes and emotional challenges associated with alcoholism.

It's important to remember that recovery is a unique journey for each individual. What works for one person may not work for another. It may take time and patience to find the combination of treatments and support that best supports one's recovery.

By seeking professional help, engaging in support groups, and implementing relapse prevention strategies, individuals struggling with alcoholism can take positive steps towards long-term recovery and a healthier, alcohol-free life.


Alcoholism is a complex disorder that affects individuals in different ways. By understanding the various subtypes of alcoholics and their associated characteristics, behaviors, treatment options, and support systems, we can develop a more comprehensive approach to addressing this condition. Seeking professional help, engaging in therapy and support groups, and implementing relapse prevention strategies are essential steps towards recovery.

With awareness and understanding, we can create a more informed and compassionate society that supports individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. Remember, recovery is possible with the right tools and support.


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