What Defines an Alcoholic

The term alcoholic refers to a person who suffers from alcoholism. Alcoholism is the chronic, severe illness characterized by four key symptoms including: craving, loss of control, tolerance and physical dependence.

Categorizing types of Alcoholics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted research in 2007 into individuals who suffer from alcoholism to determine if there are similarities between types of people who are alcoholics. What the research found was that there are 5 main groups of alcoholics which can be called alcoholic types. Each of the alcoholic types determined by the NIAA research has its own distinct characteristics, drinking behaviors and risk factors. The identified alcoholic types include: the young adult type, the young antisocial type, functional type, intermediate familial type and the chronic severe type.

Chronic Severe Alcoholic

An individual who is in the chronic severe type is one of only 9 percent of the population of alcoholics in the United States. This group is the most commonly thought of when stereotyping who an alcoholic is. They are typically men, are divorced, and use other substances as well as alcohol. They are often homeless or living in dysfunctional accommodation. Often they suffer from mental health issues such as depression or schizophrenia.

A chronic alcoholic is a person who is severely addicted to and dependent on alcohol. They will consume alcohol every day at dangerously high levels. They will often have no job, no contact with family or friends, are not in control of their drinking, and may suffer from cognitive impairment because of their alcoholism. This type of alcoholic faces serious health risks because of their drinking, and intervention is often required.

Treating Chronic Severe Alcoholism

The key to treatment for a person in the chronic severe type is that they will require medical intervention. Because they are physically addicted to alcohol, a chronic severe alcoholic will go through withdrawals; and unless they have medical detoxification, they can be at risk of serious health conditions such as heart attack or cardiovascular collapse.

A chronic severe alcoholic individual often requires therapy to treat other conditions which may include depression, anxiety, personality disorder or more serious health conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Other medical concerns such as alcohol related cancer, heart disease, malnourishment or vitamin deficiencies have also been linked to chronic alcoholism.

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