19 per cent of alcoholics in the United States can be categorized as intermediate familial alcoholics. People in this category often come from a family which has relatives who are alcoholics and are usually alcoholics quite early in life, by their early 30’s. Many of them begin drinking alcohol at a young age. Many individuals in this group suffer or have suffered from depression or other personality disorders and a small proportion abuse other substances such as cocaine or marijuana.
The term alcoholic refers to a person who suffers from alcoholism. Alcoholism is the chronic, severe illness characterized by four key symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance. A person who is an alcoholic will drink alcohol regardless of the social, mental or physical consequences of their drinking, even if the consequences are life threatening. Alcoholics are not able to comprehend or effectively respond to the impact of their drinking on themselves or on others.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted research in 2007 into individuals who suffer from alcoholism. The study determined that there are similarities between types of people who are alcoholics. From the research, it became apparent that there are 5 main types of alcoholics. Each of the alcoholic subtypes determined by the NIAA research has its own distinct characteristics, drinking behaviors and risk factors.
The identified subgroups include: the young adult subtype, the young antisocial subtype, functional subtype, intermediate familial subtype and the chronic severe subtype. Intermediate familial alcoholics make up 19 per cent of total alcoholics in the United States.
Alcoholism has been found to be a genetically influenced condition which means that the condition can affect more than one member of a family. Evidence suggests that not only can alcoholism run in a family, but there can be an aspect of enabling which can support a lifestyle of abusing alcohol.
A family history of alcoholism can increase the risk of children and other relatives becoming alcoholic. This may be because of genetics or because of a dysfunctional family life which influences and affects children. If a child grows up with a parent or significant relative who abuses alcohol, then they are conditioned to that behavior and may be influenced by it in their own lives. A family may encourage that type of behavior unintentionally, by allowing alcohol to be abused at a young age and not reprimanding problem drinking.
Alcoholism is not a problem that can be treated by one particular method or drug. It is multi-faceted, and there are diverse treatments and therapies which may be considered for each individual. Some intermediate familial alcoholics will benefit from therapies that include the family in counseling sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be beneficial for some individuals, and skills training to arm them with ways to deal with the influences from family members. Psychotherapy has also been found to provide some help to certain individuals who may be drinking as as a result of dysfunctional family relationships.
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