So what if you have two or three drinks at dinner with friends? You’re just being social. Oh, that one time you got blackout drunk at a party? You just like to have a good time. You’ve had a drink after dinner every night this week? You’ve just been super stressed lately from work/school/your relationship and need it to unwind so you can sleep.
These common situations may not seem like a cause for concern, but they can be the early signs of alcohol use disorder. Typically, those at risk for alcoholism develop an emotional or psychological attachment to drinking, meaning they use it to cope with unwanted feelings like sadness, anger, or anxiety.
Alcoholism presents differently depending on the person. The subtypes of alcoholics are young adult, young antisocial, functional, intermediate familial, and chronic severe. Common factors among these subtypes include an early start to drinking (usually in the teenage years), a family history of alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health or substance use (other than alcohol) disorders.
Young adult alcoholics are typically college-aged, and while they drink less often, they tend to binge drink more.
Young antisocial alcoholics have a history of antisocial behavior and have higher rates of substance abuse other than alcohol, including tobacco, cannabis, cocaine, and opioids.
Functional alcoholics can be college educated, be married or have a partner, and have a good-paying job. They tend to minimize the impact alcohol has on their daily lives.
Intermediate familial alcoholics are more likely to have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
Chronic sever alcoholics typically have the highest rates of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, but are also the most likely to seek treatment for their alcohol dependence.
To combat early alcohol dependence, start tracking how, when, and why you consume alcohol. Set drinking limits for yourself. If you notice any unhealthy patterns or find that you cannot stick to your self-imposed limits, consider seeking professional help.
Written by: Anna Limoges