What are the Different Types of Alcoholics?

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Alcohol is heavily embedded into America’s society. You can find someone drinking in just about any setting, including sports games, birthday parties, casual dinners, and even work events. Nearly everyone consumes alcohol, with about 78% of people drinking at some point in their lives.[1]

While occasional alcohol use is okay, some people have a hard time controlling how much they drink. If this sounds familiar, you might suffer from alcoholism. Even though the stereotype for alcohol use disorder is being so consumed with alcohol use that you cannot function in your daily life, this is only one subtype of alcoholism.

It is possible to suffer from an addiction to alcohol and not display the usual symptoms of alcoholism. There are different types of alcoholics out there. Being aware of the subtypes of alcoholism can help you determine if you are struggling with alcohol abuse.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How many types of alcoholics there are
  • What are the different subtypes of alcohol addiction
  • The signs of each subtype of alcohol use disorder

The 5 Types of Alcoholics

There are different subtypes of alcoholism to represent the many ways that alcohol addiction can present. Most of the categories are based on the age an individual began drinking, their family history of alcoholism, whether they suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions, and the severity of their alcohol use disorder. It is important to note that the subtypes of alcoholism are not diagnoses, but rather a way of categorizing the different presentations of the disorder.

The five types of alcoholics include:

Young Adult Subtype

The young adult subtype is the most common type of alcoholism, with about 31.5% of alcoholics fitting into this category.[2] This group of alcoholics begins drinking around the age of 19 and develops an alcohol dependence by the age of 24. While they might not drink every day, the individuals who fall into this category tend to binge drink when they engage in alcohol use.

Most young adult alcoholics are not working a full-time job and are in college. Co-occurring disorders are not as common among this subtype. It is also less common for these individuals to seek professional treatment.

Functional Subtype

Functional alcoholics are the second most common subtype of alcoholism. About 20% of alcoholics fall into this category.[2] This subtype of an alcoholic can continue working and maintaining responsibilities despite their alcohol abuse.

Since functional alcoholics do not experience many of the consequences of alcoholism, they are the least likely to seek professional help. These individuals usually do not develop alcoholism until their 30s and experience moderate rates of co-occurring depression.

It can be difficult to spot the signs of alcoholism among these individuals because they are so successful in their professional lives, however, they might experience problems at home or with their emotional state.

Intermediate Familial Subtype

Intermediate familial alcoholics tend to start drinking by the age of 17, however, they might not develop alcohol use disorder until their 30s. They tend to have a family history of alcoholism that contributed to the development of their substance abuse. It is more common for men to fall into the intermediate familial subtype, with 64% being male.[2]

This group of alcoholics tends to have fewer educational achievements, work lower-paying jobs, and are unlikely to seek treatment. While they are not high achievers professionally, they usually maintain a full-time job. Their signs of alcoholism might be more apparent in their home life.

Young Antisocial Subtype

Young antisocial alcoholics are more likely to begin drinking very young, developing an alcohol use disorder by the age of 18. More than 75% of these individuals are male and half of them have the traits of antisocial personality disorder.[2]

People in this subtype of alcoholism might have other co-occurring mental health conditions, such as:

Because of the high rates of co-occurring mental health conditions, this group of alcoholics is the most likely to receive treatment.

Chronic Severe Subtype

Chronic severe alcoholics are the type of alcoholics you tend to see on TV and in the media. In other words, they fall into the stereotype of a typical alcoholic. That said, this subtype is the least common, with only 9% of alcoholics falling into this category.[2]

People in this category often begin drinking at a young age but do not develop alcoholism until their mid-30s. That said, they tend to have a hard time maintaining employment, dealing with co-occurring mental health conditions, and experiencing health concerns due to their drinking.

About 66% of chronic severe alcoholics seek professional help, often because their alcoholism is so apparent to others.[2]

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism, it’s time to seek help. Alcohol use disorder can impact every area of your life, leading to both physical and mental health concerns. Thankfully, alcohol treatment programs can help you stop drinking and regain control over your life.

At New Jersey Interventions, we can help connect you with a top-rated alcohol rehab program in your area. If your loved one is refusing treatment, we can also help you organize an intervention. Our expert interventionists can help you convince your loved one that they need professional treatment while teaching you to uphold boundaries.

Contact us today to learn more about how to get started with professional alcoholism treatment.


  1. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Alcohol Use in the United States
  2. Walden University: Five Types of Alcoholics

Medically Reviewed: June 20, 2024

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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