Categorizing types of Alcoholics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted research into individuals who suffer from alcoholism to determine if there are similarities between types of people who are alcoholics. They found that that there is no typical alcoholic, rather 5 main alcoholic subtypes. Each of the alcoholic subtypes determined by the NIAA research has its own distinct characteristics, drinking behaviors and risk factors. The study identified 5 key groups of alcoholics: the young adult subtype, the young antisocial subtype, the functional subtype, the intermediate familial subtype and the chronic severe subtype. The young adult subtype is the largest group and yet the least likely to seek help for their problems with alcohol.

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult subtype is the largest group and makes up 31.5 per cent of alcoholics surveyed in the United States. They do not generally abuse other substances, and have low rates of family alcoholism and mental disorders.

The young adult subtype is made up of men and women under the age of 25. It is during this time that they are at school, college or university and are participating in alcohol-related activities. Their drinking behavior consists of unhealthy and high risk drinking behaviors such as binge drinking. Many individuals drink dangerous levels of alcohol because of peer pressure or social anxieties.

Treatments for Young Adult Subtype Alcoholics

Individuals who fit into the young adult subtype are the easiest to reach in terms of prevention and intervention programs. Education about the dangers of alcohol use and misuse is easy to implement because many of these people are at an education institution. Teachers and mentors are also able to refer students to appropriate treatment through the education system.

This group, however, is also the least likely to seek professional help for their alcoholism. Pride, ignorance, and the fact that most people grow out of the dangerous drinking patterns are some of the reasons for not seeking help. Peer pressure to drink and know how to hold your booze is another reason. Many do not see that their drinking behaviors are a problem.

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:

* Craving – strong need to have alcohol
* Loss of control – an inability to cease drinking, no control of the situation
* Physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not drunk which includes nausea and vomiting
* Tolerance – more alcohol required to meet cravings and to get drunk

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