The U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests that about 18 million Americans struggle with their alcohol consumption. People like this share many traits. For example, they may all find it hard to stop drinking once they’ve started, and they may all plan daily activities around the use and abuse of alcohol. But, people with alcoholism might also be quite different from one another. In fact, research conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests that there are five separate alcoholism subtypes. Understanding what they are could help families to make good treatment decisions for the people they love.

1. Young Adult

People who begin drinking early in life and who don’t tend to blend other substances with alcohol are part of this subtype. People in this category don’t tend to have mental illnesses or family histories that involve alcohol, but they do tend to avoid getting help for their drinking difficulties. Instead, they hope to hide their drinking by:

  • Consuming alcohol in parties that take place outside the home
  • Refusing to discuss alcohol at all
  • Masking signs of a hangover with over-the-counter medications
  • Buying alcohol for immediate consumption, rather than storing it for later use

2. Young Antisocial

Drinkers who are often in their mid-20s make up this subtype, and like those in the young adult subtype, people in this group also started drinking early in life. But unlike young adult subtype members, people in the young antisocial group do tend to have mental health concerns, such as depression or bipolar disorder. These people also tend to mix other substances with alcohol. Those who fall into this category might work to hide their drinking, but they might also choose to be defiant about their habits, engaging in arguments when confronted.

3. Functional

About 20 percent of alcoholics fall into this subtype, according to the NIAAA. People like this drink heavily, and they might have a long family history of alcoholism, but they tend to face few consequences as a result of their drinking. They’re not arrested, and their health doesn’t fail them. These people can be difficult to change, as they may not see any reason to tackle a drinking problem at all.

4. Intermediate Familial

Middle-aged people who smoke make up the majority of this subtype, and long family histories involving alcohol are quite common here. People who fit into this group might seem somewhat functional, but these people might begin to experience symptoms of mental health distress, and they might begin to dabble in the use and abuse of other drugs. These are people on the cusp of serious alcohol-related problems, and thankfully, many of them choose to get help, NIAAA says.

5. Chronic Severe

Early drinking is associated with this subtype, but most people in this group are middle-aged. They’ve been drinking for years, if not decades, and they might struggle with their mental and physical health as a consequence. Many people in this group are open to the idea of rehab, simply because they can see how a drinking problem can rob them of their health and happiness.

If someone you love fits into one of these categories, or you feel certain that the person should seek help for drinking in order to avoid placement in one of these groups, please call us. Our admissions coordinators can provide you with information on alcohol treatment at Black Bear Lodge and can help the person you love to begin a safe and sober life.