Types of Alcoholics

According to the Big Book, there are different types of alcoholics. Before diving into these, however, it should be noted, there are many situations, experiences, and reasons that lead someone to become an alcoholic. Things such as trauma, family history, social pressures, and other things can cause someone to start living an alcoholic lifestyle. Knowing more about the reasons can help someone to prevent an addiction to alcohol in the first place. Knowing more about the types of alcoholics can help someone to get the proper treatment for their alcohol addiction.

Emotionally Unstable

There are those who are emotionally unstable. They may be psychopaths, bipolar, or have another type of mental illness. Either way they always seem to keep going back to drinking, no matter how hard they try to quit on their own. These types of alcoholics make resolutions over and over again, to no prevail. The problem is they make the resolution without making the decision to change.

For example, they may make a New Year’s resolution stating they will stop drinking on January 1st. However, they never make any decisions that include changes which need to be made for them to quit drinking. For instance, they don’t make the decision to get themselves into rehab or to start going to AA meetings.  

Unwilling to Admit Drinking Isn’t an Option

There are the types of alcoholics who won’t admit they need to quit drinking. They make plans to drink. When they want to give up on drinking, they decide to drink light beer instead of vodka, for instance. This type of alcoholic might start going to the local bar, instead of a party club, thinking they will drink less.

No matter what changes this type of alcoholic makes, they never seem to make the decision to quit drinking altogether. That just doesn’t seem like an option.

Drinking without Danger

Some alcoholics believe that if they go a certain amount of time without drinking, they will be able to drink without a problem. They are convinced if they can stop drinking for, say three months, then they can go back to drinking and control it.

This doesn’t work. When someone is an alcoholic, they can’t control their drinking. They may be able to do so for a limited amount of time. However, eventually they will go back to their old ways.


There are the manic-depressive alcoholics. These types of alcoholics aren’t usually understood by their friends. They feel isolated or left out. These are the people who feel like nobody ever gets what they are going through. Sometimes they take the victim role and other times the martyr role.

Manic-depressive alcoholics have a difficult time asking for treatment. They feel nobody will understand what they have gone through or how they are feeling. However, the people in treatment centers do understand.


There are also the “normal” or high-functioning alcoholics. These are the people who hold down a job, have great relationships, yet they still can’t seem to control their drinking. They are alcoholics who can function normally, except alcohol still has a hold over them.

These are the main types of alcoholics. If you are addicted to alcohol and relate to any of these, there are addiction treatment centers that understand what you are going through and want to help.

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Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP
Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP

Experienced Clinical Director with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Anger Management, Healthcare, Medicine, EMDR, and Life Transitions. Strong healthcare services professional with a Masters Degree focused in Psychology from The University of Memphis.

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