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Types of Alcoholism

You were never good at school. The only reason you found yourself going was to keep your dad off your back, as he spent most of his days inebriated while your mother took care of everything else. He was on disability from being hurt in the factory, a life you felt you may end up knowing.

types of alcoholism

Though you went to school, you never really went to class. The crowd of friends you liked to hang out with under the pier were more interested in getting drunk, like yourself. Sometimes, you all would try other substances, depending on who could get a hold of what. But alcohol was always your main focus. When your mom found out, she panicked and sent you to rehab, hoping to fix all the damage your father had caused. The second you left, you got a job at the factory your dad worked at, and you quickly found yourself drinking again.

It’s funny, years later you see a friend you knew from elementary school. He always swore he would never do drugs or drink alcohol. Yet there he is, at the local bar you frequent, drinking bourbon over a business meeting. He is surrounded by other men in suits, all wearing Rolex watches. He is successful, and doing the very thing he said he never would. Are you really that different?

In Hillsborough County 2022, 33.6% of teens aged 15-17 said they drank alcohol at some point in their lives. Clean Recovery Centers knows that addiction has no age limit, and anyone can become dependent on alcohol no matter how old (or young) they are. Our program is tailored to address mental health as well as substance use disorder, and can be modified depending on the client’s needs. In our blog today, we are discussing the different types of alcoholism, and what treatment may work best for you.

Addiction Can Look Normal: Different Types of Alcoholism

We have often heard many phrases and descriptions of alcoholism. Many associate a person with alcoholism as a drunk, homeless person. Others see versions of alcoholism where the person is a well-educated, successful, career and family-minded person. The thing about these stereotypes is that they all hold some form of truth. In a recent study, it was determined that there are 5 types of alcoholism. Not every person will fit each description exactly. Many stories of alcohol use disorder will have overlapping similarities.

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult subtype of alcoholism is the most prevalent, with 31.5% of people belonging to this category. In this subtype, drinking usually begins around the age of 19, and develops into alcohol use disorder around the age of 24. This subtype is typically male, with no history of alcohol use disorder, and no co-occurring mental health or other substance use disorder.

The young adult subtype of alcoholism usually begins around college. Those in this stage are less likely to seek treatment for alcoholism, but those who do tend to favor a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Intermediate Familial Subtype

This subtype makes up 19% of those living with alcohol use disorder. Typically, people in the intermediate familial subtype begin drinking early – around the age of 17. Alcohol dependency usually happens by the time they have reached the age of 32. Most have immediate family members with alcohol use disorder, and more than half will have been diagnosed with depression. Most have smoked cigarettes and/or used marijuana, while some have used cocaine.

While this group typically has a higher education level, the income status does not usually reflect it. Only 25% sought treatment through a detox, residential facility, or self-help groups.

Young Antisocial Subtype

21.1% of those living with alcohol use disorder have this subtype. This is the youngest group to start drinking, typically around the age of 15. More than 50% come from families with alcohol use disorder, and around 50% show symptoms or are diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression are common in this subtype. Many had co-occurring substance disorders such as cocaine, marijuana, and opiate use disorder.

This group tends to have the lowest income and education level, and drinks more at one time and overall. However, this group is more likely to seek treatment. 35% sought some form of treatment including private insurance treatment facilities, self-help groups, and detox.

Functional Subtype

Many of us are familiar with the term “high-functioning alcoholic.” This subtype is that description, a middle-aged – often male – person with a successful career and a family. They come from multiple generations of family with alcohol use disorder, and around 25% have major depressive disorder. Often well-educated and having the highest income of the other subtypes, the functional subtype doesn’t typically develop dependence until their late 30s.

Less than 20% seek treatment in this subtype, and when they do it is either 12-step based or private insurance treatment centers.

Chronic Severe Subtype

alcoholism classification typesThe smallest subtype of alcoholism, as only 9.2% are in this category. They often begin drinking around the age of 15 and develop alcohol use disorder around the age of 29. This subtype has the highest rate of family members with alcohol use disorder at 77%. Half experience bipolar disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Social anxiety is also present, leading to isolation and disconnect from society. Many have co-occurring substance use disorders such as cocaine, opioids, and marijuana. They are also likely to smoke cigarettes.

This subtype has the lowest education, employment, and income of all the subtypes. They are more likely to experience divorce and emergency room visits due to alcohol consumption. While they actually drink less than the young antisocial subtype, they consume more than all other subtypes. They are the most likely to seek treatment, with 66% doing so. Chronic severe subtypes often try self-help groups, detox, and rehabilitation programs.

Seeking Help For Alcoholism in Tampa: Regardless Of Its Type

It does not matter what type, category, genre, or group of alcoholism you are living with, treatment is available and can be the life-saving push you need. It may not seem like alcohol has taken over yet, but it can at any moment. Finding a treatment that can adjust to your specific needs while addressing the principal causes of your alcohol use disorder can help kick start recovery and lead to success. While no two addiction stories are the same, recovery from alcoholism is not only possible, but achievable.

If you or someone you love is managing a type of alcoholism, it is not too late to seek help. Clean Recovery Centers utilizes a unique, three-phase approach to addiction treatment unlike any in the Suncoast area. Not only can we address mental health, but each facility also has housing options, so there is never a worry about where you will stay during treatment. All housing has been certified by the Florida Association for Recovery Residences (FARR). Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our alcohol use disorder program.


What are the 4 types of alcoholic?

There are actually 5 types of alcoholism, young adult subtype, functional subtype, young antisocial subtype, intermediate familial subtype, and chronic severe subtype. Within these, there are associated terms such as high-functioning alcoholic, closet alcoholic, social drinking, and drinking to cope.

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