Alcohol abuse is more complicated than merely drinking too much. According to Penn State researchers, there may be five separate types of problem drinkers with each one may be more common at different stages of life. In the study, Penn State researchers discovered five distinct classes or “profiles” among people with alcohol use disorder, with each profile defined by a specific set of symptoms. While each profile can exist during any time in a person’s life, certain profiles are more common at different stages of life than others.

Also, according to the study, ‘For example, young adults were more likely to fit the profile characterized by drinking too much and experiencing hangovers and other withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, older adults in their late fifties to sixties were more likely to struggle with cutting back on their alcohol use”.

The researchers found five distinct profiles within the study participants.

  • Alcohol-induced injury: In addition to drinking too much, people in this profile reported getting into risky situations during or after drinking that may have resulted in an injury.
  • Difficulty cutting back: People in this group struggled with wanting to cut back on their problematic drinking but being unable to.
  • Highly problematic, low perceived life interference: While people in this group reported experiencing many symptoms, they said their alcohol did not interfere with their family, friends, work or hobbies.
  • Adverse effects only: People who fit this profile reported experiencing hangovers or withdrawal symptoms in addition to drinking too much.
  • Highly problematic: People in this group reported experiencing every symptom of alcohol use disorder.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism, alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder is defined by alcohol dependence, which is the body’s physical inability to stop drinking and the presence of alcohol cravings. Individuals with alcohol addiction may go to extreme measures such as stealing, lying, hiding alcohol, drinking household cleaners that contain alcohol and other unhealthy behaviors to obtain alcohol due to cravings and the fear of withdrawal. In the absence of alcohol, these individuals can experience alcohol withdrawals, which are characterized by agitation, tremors, hot flashes, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, nausea/vomiting, and seizures. Withdrawing from alcohol can be lethal, and therefore individuals should seek professional help when trying to quit their drinking habit. While young adults are most at risk for an alcohol use disorder, according to these five distinct profiles, it is clear that it’s also an issue for people in middle age or older adulthood, as well. It is important to note that alcohol use disorder may look different depending on the individual.

Source: Alcohol and Alcoholism