Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

5 Types of Alcoholics Identified

More Than Half of U.S. Alcoholics Are Young Adults, Alcohol Dependence Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 29, 2007 -- New alcoholism research identifies five types of alcoholics and shows that young adults account for more than half of U.S. alcoholics.

The high percentage of young adults among alcoholics was unexpected, notes researcher Howard Moss, MD, who is the associate director for clinical and translational research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

"While we knew that many young adults had problematic involvement with alcohol from our research on college-aged drinkers, we were certainly surprised by the proportion of alcohol-dependent individuals who fell into that young adult cluster," Moss tells WebMD.

Seek Help for Alcoholism

In the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Moss and colleagues describe the five types of alcoholics. But before you read those descriptions, keep Moss' advice in mind.

"We hope that if someone suspects they may have a problem with alcohol that they talk about this with their health care provider," Moss tells WebMD.

"If the health care professional is uncomfortable with assessing alcohol problems (and we hope all such professionals are comfortable with these assessments) the individual should ask for a referral to an addictions specialist for an in-depth evaluation," he says.

Alcoholism Statistics

Moss and colleagues studied data from 1,484 U.S. adults who took part in a national survey conducted by the NIAAA from 2001 to 2002.

The study focused on alcohol dependence and also included questions about personality, family history of alcoholism, and other substance use.

The researchers applied the survey's findings to the U.S. population. They estimate that in the year before the study, nearly 8 million people in the U.S. met the standard for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is the nonmedical, popular term for alcohol dependence, notes Moss.

5 Types of Alcoholics

The study describes five subtypes of alcoholics.

The young adult subtype accounts for about 32% of U.S. alcoholics. They're young adults who rarely seek help for alcohol dependence. About 24 years old, they became alcoholics by age 20, on average. They drink less frequently than other alcoholics, but they tend to binge drink when they drink. This is the largest subtype.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting