Chronic Alcoholism: A Devastating Disease – In order to help others gain a better understanding of alcohol addiction, researchers at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse have identified five different subtypes of alcoholics. These subtypes include the following:
- Young adult subtype
- Young antisocial subtype
- Functional subtype
- Intermediate familial subtype
- Chronic severe subtype
What is Chronic Alcoholism?
Chronic alcoholism, also referred to as the chronic severe subtype, is the rarest but also the most destructive form of alcoholism. It affects more than 9% of alcoholics who are, on average, 38 years of age. They began drinking early in life (around 16) and developed an addiction to alcohol later (about age 29.) The majority are male (nearly two-thirds, 65%).
Tragically, this group of individuals have the highest drinking rates and consume alcohol on an average of 247 days per year. They also binge drink on 69% of these days and consume a maximum of 15 drinks.
These alcoholics have the highest rate of divorce, and less than 29% have actually been married. Only around 9% have a college degree, and they also have the lowest rate of employment. Less than half (about 43%) are employed full-time.
Chronic severe alcoholics also have the highest rate of family members who also suffer from alcohol dependence, – 77%. They are most likely to experience mental health conditions, including the following:
- 55% experience depression
- 47% have antisocial personality disorder
- 34% have bipolar disorder
- 26% have social phobia
- 25% have dysthymia
- 24% have generalized anxiety disorder
- 17% have panic disorder
These individuals also tend to engage in other substance abuse, including cigarette smoking and using marijuana, cocaine, or opioids.
Chronic alcoholics tend to experience the most persistent, widespread symptoms, including the following:
- The highest rate of emergency department visits related to drinking.
- 94% drink larger amounts for longer than intended.
- 92% continue to drink despite encountering problems from drinking, such as drinking at work or school, strained relationships, or drunk driving.
- 88% experience withdrawal symptoms.
- 83% have repeatedly tried to cut back on their drinking.
- 64% spend significant time recovering from drinking.
- About two-thirds (66%) have sought help for their alcoholism.
About Chronic Alcoholism
An individual suffering from chronic alcoholism is most likely what the average person imagines when the term “alcoholic” is used, though this designation only accounts for about 9% of the U.S. alcohol-addicted population. A chronic severe alcoholic probably began drinking and struggling with alcohol-associated issues at a young age and is currently middle-aged. This subtype also experiences antisocial personality disorder at high rates and routinely has legal troubles as well.
Chronic severe alcoholics also suffer from psychiatric disorders more often than other subtypes of alcoholics, including bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. Close to 80% of chronic severe alcoholics have a familial link to alcoholism, meaning that a close family member, such as a parent, also suffered, or suffers, from alcoholism.
People who suffer from chronic alcoholism often encounter severe life problems related to their drinking, such as homelessness, unemployment, strain on relationships, legal issues, and health conditions. They also suffer from behavioral, social, and emotional concerns that make them more likely to seek professional help.
Indeed, these individuals are the most frequently represented type of alcoholic in treatment programs – as noted, about two-thirds of chronic severe alcoholics receive help for their drinking.
Do You Suffer From Chronic Alcoholism?
If you or someone you know can answer yes to some of the following questions, chronic alcoholism is likely present:
1. Are you middle-aged, and started drinking and engaging in problematic drinking habits early in life?
2. Did you come from a family environment where a close family member suffered from alcoholism?
3. Do you have difficulty maintaining employment, a home, or relationships?
4. Have you had legal problems and engaged in criminal behavior?
5. Do you have antisocial personality disorder or other psychiatric disorders, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder?
6. Do you also smoke cigarettes and marijuana, or engage in the abuse of illicit substances such as cocaine or heroin?
7. Have you already sought help for your drinking and already been through a treatment program?
Treatment for Alcoholism
Chronic, severe alcoholism is an absolutely devastating disease that can emotionally, socially, and physically cripple those who suffer, as well as significantly impact their loved ones. Seeking treatment for alcoholism is the first step toward a new life.
Our center offers an integrated, evidence-based approach to addiction that includes essential therapeutic modalities such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, and more.
We employ caring medical professionals who specialize in substance abuse and deliver services to our clients with compassion and expertise. We provide clients with the tools, knowledge, and support they need to achieve abstinence and prevent relapse.
You can restore sanity and harmony to your life, and learn how to sustain long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Call us today to find out how we can help!