These are people that may seem to have their lives together; they may be the ones that others look up to. However, while they are “functional” in a sense, they are still suffering from addiction. Less than 20% of this subgroup has sought help, and most do so from a 12-Step program or a private health care professional. They tended to start drinking at 15 and became alcoholics by earlier than other subtypes.

functional alcoholic

The average age of members of this group is 26 years old, but unlike the young adult, these types of drinkers began drinking much earlier, starting at 15 and developing alcoholism by the age of 18. Half also have an antisocial disorder, making it difficult for them to seek or accept help for alcoholism. Members of this group also have an increased likelihood of drug use, especially of marijuana, cocaine and opioids. Eventually, 33 percent of this group’s members will look for help in recovering from their alcoholism.

The Intermediate Familial

This additional substance abuse is noted as co-occurring substance dependence, which can be caused by alcoholism or go on to cause alcoholism. The type of alcoholic can also be determined by any additional mental health diagnoses. Almost27%of intermediate familial alcohol dependents have sought help for their drinking problem.

What is the highest alcoholic?

  1. Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany Vodka. Proof: 192 (96% alcohol by volume)
  2. Everclear 190. Proof: 190 (95% alcohol by volume)
  3. Golden Grain 190.
  4. Hapsburg Absinthe XC.
  5. Balkan 176 Vodka.
  6. Sunset Very Strong Rum.
  7. Stroh 160 Rum.
  8. Devil's Springs Vodka 160.

For example, if you’re a functional alcoholic, outpatient treatment may work well for you. This would allow you to continue living and working as normal but receive treatment at the same time. Another type of alcoholic is known as the young antisocial subtype. This group, among other types of alcoholics, is the least likely to get help. Within this group, the average age at which someone develops an alcohol addiction is 20 years old. If your drinking causes distress or problems in your daily life, you likely would be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder.

Why Does a Functional Alcoholic Need Treatment?

DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria- Part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder are actually used by practicing physicians and psychiatrists around the world. If you’ve experienced at least two of these scenarios in the past 12-months, you’re likely dealing with a serious substance abuse issue. Despite how common this conception of an alcoholic is in modern society, the truth is that these types of alcohol addicts really only make up about 9% of all alcoholics according to the NIAAA findings. One of the most interesting things to come from the NIAAA study is the fact that functional alcoholism is actually quite common- more common than most people think.

institute on alcohol

It would seem logical to begin a discussion of the history of typology with E.M. Jellinek’s classic work on the different “species” of alcoholism , which is widely considered to be the first scientific alcoholism typology. Moreover, by studying the evolution of alcoholism typologies, current researchers can place Jellinek’s ideas and subsequent thinking into a broader perspective. A functional alcoholic may not hit “rock bottom,” and they are often successful in relationships, employment, and life in general. Therefore, Psychology Today reports that they often deny they have a problem with alcohol and are less likely to seek professional help. The young adult alcoholic may not seek help for their problematic drinking, as drinking to excess at this age is often considered “normal” and part of a phase of life.


More than 75% are male, and more than 50% have traits of antisocial personality disorder. People in the young antisocial subtype also experience high rates of depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and have the highest rates of other substance abuse disorders. Substances may include cigarettes, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and opioids. Individuals who fall into the chronic severe alcoholic subtype are generally middle-aged men who started drinking young.

A functional alcoholic is one who drinks on a daily basis, usually ingesting at least five drinks throughout a single day. The average age is much older than the other groups, and most members are middle-aged. They’re considered functional because, despite their excessive drinking, they still manage to maintain relationships and hold down a job. Functional alcoholics hold down a job, or maintain their class schedule, they might have families, a home to manage and seemingly successful life.

What is A Dual Diagnosis and How Does it Affect Alcoholics?

The chronic severe subtype makes up the smallest percentage of alcoholics, with only 9.2%. This group tends to start drinking at a young age but typically develops an alcohol dependence at an intermediate age . Seventy-seven percent of this group have close family members with alcoholism, the highest percentage of any subtype. And 47% of the members of this group exhibit antisocial personality disorder, the second highest rate of any subtype. This subtype is the most likely of any to experience major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder.

The highest of people struggling with co-occurring mental illness and other substance abuse issues. When heavy drinking is the norm in a family, people tend to fall into drinking as normal behavior. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder, you should seek help right away.

Alcohol Treatment with Dr. Wandler

One group, designated types of alcoholics A alcoholics, is characterized by later onset, fewer childhood risk factors, less severe dependence, fewer alcohol-related problems, and less psychopathological dysfunction. The two types also differed with respect to treatment outcome assessed prospectively at 12 and 36 months. The results are consistent with historical and contemporary typological theories that have postulated similar subgroups of alcoholics. A third of Functional alcoholics have a multi-generational family history of alcohol abuse. People who are ready to begin recovery from being a functional alcoholic often need to treat underlying mental health issues that have been previously masked by alcohol use.

  • Since a chronic severe alcoholic will typically embody what most people imagine when they think of a drunk, they won’t be as likely to deny their alcoholism as other subtypes.
  • Fewer than 20% of this subgroup seek help, and when they do, most turn to a 12-step program or private healthcare professional.
  • The motivational model of alcohol use was developed to help treat alcohol dependence and suggests people drink because they expect a change in how they feel after drinking.
  • While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease.
  • While enhancement drinkers drink to achieve positive emotions, those who drink to cope do so because they want to avoid negative feelings.

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