The Types of Alcoholism Classified

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : January 03, 
| 4 Sources

Alcoholics vary in a lot of their personal and drinking-related traits, and much research and money is spent on identifying the types of alcoholism they each fall in. Why? Surely if you are drink dependent then you are drink dependent. Yes, this is true but once you have this knowledge then, if you want to, you can do something about it.

Alcohol dependence is a complex and common disorder that results from the consequence of behavioral, environmental, and biological factors. Nonetheless, if you can divide alcoholics into groups then you can target specific types with different treatment options, education programs, information campaigns etc. For example tackling alcoholism in the elderly needs different resources than tackling alcoholism in women.

The aim of identifying types of alcoholic is, hopefully, to reduce the prevalence of alcoholism in the long term.

Sounds good. Yes, it is and both the U.K. and U.S government are using results from such research to target specific alcoholic types.

Have a look and see if you can see yourself in one of these types…………


Types of Alcoholism
The U.K.

The Health Department in the United Kingdom identifies nine types of alcoholism. They are using this information in anti-alcohol campaigns to try and reduce drink addiction, particularly amongst the young.

The NINE alcoholic types are……..

1. Depressed- they drink because a crisis has occurred in their lives. This could be a divorce, financial problems, a death in the family etc. Alcohol is used for comfort and to help them cope with the current crisis.

2. Hedonistic - usually they drink to have fun, return to their youth and go mad. They tend to be single and have no children or they are older and their children have flown the nest.

3. Social - this type drinks in a group and do so because they want a feeling of security. Generally they lack self-confidence.

4. Border dependent - drink because they are bored and dissatisfied with their lives. Spend all day in the bar.

5. Macho - feel they are not appreciated by people and find this very frustrating. They see alcohol as masculine.

6. Bored - they are bored and drink to relieve it. Includes single mothers and singles who have no interests outside alcohol.

7. Conformist - This drink addict believes drinking lots is what men do. They go to clubs and pubs and get pissed.

8. Distressed - this type is stressed and this stress rules their lives. They believe that drinking gives them control over their lives and calms them down.

9. Easygoing - they drink socially all the time and have many friends. They often forget how much they have drunk as it is such a big part of their lives.

Types of Alcoholism
The U.S.

The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) in the U.S. identifies FIVE subtypes of alcoholic……

  • Young adult - the largest subtype. They are on average 24 years of age and started to be drink dependent at the age of 20. They generally don’t ask for help for their addiction. 32% of alcoholics belong to this type. This group has more likely attained a higher education level than all alcoholic groups except the functional subtype. The largest of the types. Binge drinking is their thing not daily drinking.
  • Young antisocial - 21% of drink dependents in the U.S. On average they are 26 years of age having started to drink at the age of 15 and become dependent at 18. They are more likely to smoke (tobacco and marijuana). Many of patients under this category suffer from major depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety issues. More than a third of these alcoholics seek out help for their alcohol problems.
  • Functional - Middle aged. They tend to be educated, married and in a job. They seem to live a perfectly normal life despite their daily drinking.19% of U.S. alcoholics belong to this type. See functional alcoholic for more.
  • Intermediate familial - around half of these drink addicts have relatives who are also dependent on alcohol. Average age of 27. 19% of U.S. alcoholics belong to this type. This group has more likely attained a higher education level than all alcoholic groups except the functional subtype.
  • Chronic Severe - 9% of drink addicts belong to this type. Mainly includes men who are probably divorced and also take illegal drugs.

What is interesting to note is that more than half the people that fall into these types are young adults, men and women.

If we are to treat and identify alcoholism successfully, then we need to get away from stereotyping the alcoholic as a middle-aged or elderly man.

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Are you concerned about the drinking of a family member? Would you like to learn how to help your loved one stop drinking? If so, then be sure to take a look at our living with an alcoholic page.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Walden University. Five Types of Alcoholics.

NCBI. The Classification of Alcoholics. 1996.

NCBI. Subtypes of Alcohol Dependence in a Nationally Representative Sample. June 26, 2007.

National Institutes of Health. Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes. June 28, 2007.

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