When we think about alcoholism, most of us envision a homeless person on the streets or a surly thug who enjoys causing trouble everywhere he goes.  However, research shows that there are five types of alcoholics with surprisingly different characteristics.

Types of Alcoholics

Knowing the different types of alcoholics can help a person find the most effective treatment for their situation.  Each classification has specific traits that influence how a person responds to detox and rehab.

Are you curious as to which category your alcohol use belongs in?  If so, the following guidelines may prove helpful.

Type #1:  Young Adults

This type is the most prevalent, accounting for about 32% of alcoholics in the US.  Most of the young adult alcoholics are in their mid-20s.  When they drink, it’s usually binge-drinking episodes where they consume more than five beverages in a short time.

These young people rarely seek help because they are in denial about the extent of their drinking problem.  A small number of them attend self-help groups rather than enter a long-term treatment program.

Type #2:  Functional Alcoholics

This subtype includes individuals who have high levels of education and higher incomes than other alcoholics.  Most are married and have children and are in their early 40s.  These people tend to drink daily, and many drink more than five drinks in one session.  In most cases, these individuals don’t use other drugs other than cigarettes.  This group makes up about 19% of America’s alcoholics.

Functional alcoholics are in denial because they spend so much time with others who have the same drinking problem.  They mistakenly believe that going to work every day and keeping the bills paid means they don’t need help.  For this reason, they fail to seek treatment and the alcoholic abuse continues to worsen.

Type #3:  Intermediate Familial Subtype

This group makes up about 19% of alcoholics in the US.  These individuals generally have close relatives who also abuse alcohol.  Also, they are likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, or other mood disorders.  As few as 25% of them eventually seek treatment.

Type #4:  Young Antisocial Alcoholics

Individuals in this subtype begin drinking in their mid-teens and become addicted by the age of 18.  This group accounts for about 21% of America’s alcohol abusers.  These young people are also more likely to use cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, or opiates as well.

About 50% of these individuals are struggling with antisocial personality disorders.  What this means is that they lie, manipulate, exploit, and mistreat others repeatedly.  Treatment for someone in this group should include cognitive behavioral therapy for the best outcome.

Type #5:  Chronic Severe Alcoholism

Approximately 9% of alcoholics fall into this classification.  They tend to be divorced males who are addicted to other substances as well. They struggle with personality disorders, mood disorders, and other mental health problems.  Also, they drink more alcohol than any other type of alcoholic and have no control over how much they drink.

Finding the Right Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism is a disorder that encompasses a range of factors such as biological, behavioral, and environmental issues that create different types of alcoholics.  As such, an effective treatment program should evaluate each patient to ensure that all aspects of the disorder are addressed.

Some of the treatment options available for alcoholics include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Group, Individual, and Family Counseling.
  • Life Skills Training
  • Coping Skills
  • Anger Management
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Nutritional Guidance
  • Relationships in Recovery
  • Self-Awareness
  • Spirituality
  • Mindfulness Sobriety

If you are ready to put alcohol abuse behind you, contact us at New Beginnings today.  One of our representatives can conduct a confidential assessment of your needs and recommend a treatment program that is right for you.  No matter which of the types of alcoholics you are, our evidence-based treatment will help you overcome this powerful addiction.


  • ncbi.nlm.nih.govSubtypes of Alcohol Dependence in a Nationally Representative Sample