The varied nature of alcohol addiction leads to varying subtypes with different challenges and characteristics. This blog is an examination of the 5 subtypes of problematic drinking. Each category illustrates the complexity of alcohol addiction. Therefore, this exploration is intended to promote a more in-depth comprehension of several pathways people travel in their quest for recovery.
The 5 Subtypes of Problematic Drinking
- Young Adult Subtype
In general, the biggest subgroup is the young adult subtype (approximately 30%) among people who have alcohol dependence problems. This group begins their alcohol consumption at the age of around 19 and becomes alcohol dependent by the time they are 24. Despite displaying moderately low rates of co-occurring mental health illnesses, they engage in binge drinking episodes with a notable 2.5: 1 male-to-female ratio. This subtype typically involves persons not having steady employment in college and rarely seek any formal treatment. However, should they choose to confront their drinking habit, a 12-step program would be a better option. The pivotal question for individuals in this group becomes, “Is my drinking becoming an issue?”
- Functional Subtype
The functional subtype, which accounts for around 20% of persons struggling with alcoholism, typifies those who are sometimes referred to as “functional alcoholics.” They begin drinking around the age of 18 and develop alcohol dependence around the age of 40. This group is notable for maintaining employment and relationships while having moderate levels of depression and a lower prevalence of most other co-occurring illnesses. While many people in this category use cigarettes, only a handful have comorbid drug use issues. Approximately 60% of this group is male and has the greatest levels of education and wealth among alcoholic subtypes. They are the least likely to face legal troubles as a result of alcohol and have rarely reported problems as a result of their drinking. This subgroup tends to be married, and their lives may appear stable.
- Intermediate Familial Subtype
The intermediate familial subtype, which accounts for around 19% of alcoholics, is notable for starting drinking at a younger age, before clocking 18 years. The onset of alcoholism starts very early, at the age of 32. This subgroup is distinguished by a high prevalence of direct family members with a history of alcoholism. They are also more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, depression, antisocial personality disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. This group also has a high rate of addiction to cigarettes, cocaine, and marijuana. Males make up 64% of the intermediate familial subgroup.
- Young Antisocial Subtype
The young antisocial subtype accounts for around 21% of people with problematic drinking. This group begins drinking alcohol at an unusually young age, around 15 or 16 and develops alcohol dependency around the age of 18. More than half of this subgroup has antisocial personality disorder characteristics, which contributes to high rates of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder. The young antisocial subtype also has the greatest incidence of other drug abuse disorders, such as smoking, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and opiate addiction. More than 75% of this group’s members are men. Among all categories, this subgroup has the lowest levels of income, employment, and education. They also consume more alcohol at once and overall, albeit their frequency of drinking is significantly lower.
- Chronic Severe Subtype
The chronic severe subtype, which accounts for 9% of alcoholics, often begins drinking at the age of 15, with alcohol dependency forming around the age of 29. A large 77% have alcoholic family members, and 47% have antisocial personality disorder. This population has a high prevalence of serious mental health issues and drug abuse. More than 80% experience acute alcohol withdrawal and continuous attempts to quit, with over 90% continuing to drink despite issues.
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