Have you ever wondered if you or a loved one is an alcoholic? There are many different definitions and explanations of what alcoholism is and who can be classified as suffering this addiction. Many times these designations are chosen by the various treatment facilities, perhaps the best way to define the disorder is by saying it is a loss of control over the consumption of alcohol to the point that it interferes in major life events. One reason this is a great characterization is the fact that it does not try to pinpoint a quantity, but the loss of control.

Who is an alcoholic?

Is this a problem only seen in the very poor? Perhaps it has racial distinctions? Honestly, anyone can be an alcoholic in spite of his or her socioeconomic status, age, gender, race or creed. If you find yourself or a loved one seems to "have" to drink, whether it is a few everyday or full on binges there is a good chance that alcoholism is afoot.

Types of Alcoholism

You may be thinking that all of this still sounds foggy or gray, and to a point, you would be right. The problem with diagnosing alcoholism is there are so many variations of the addiction. Some will drink only on occasion, but drink in large quantities while others drink practically every day and have more than a couple of drinks.

  • Binge- this type of alcoholic may go days or even weeks without a drink and then "tie one on" which means they will drink massive quantities of alcohol and pass out. Binge drinking is defined as more than five drinks per sitting for males and more than three for females.
  • Functional Alcoholic- This is the person, who holds down a full time job, maybe married and seems to tend to life. Yet they cannot resist the urge to drink even after suffering legal problems such as DUI or other alcohol related offense.
  • Non-Functioning- Alcoholics in this category will neglect everything and everyone. They drink at every conceivable opportunity and do not take care of themselves or a household. Legal issues do not affect this type of alcoholic either.

These are the three most well known categories an alcoholic can fall into; again, there are variations and sometimes even blending of the categories over time. Someone who binges or is functional now may become non-functional over time.


The most well known treatment course for alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous. This program is so well known in fact that you rarely hear about other options. However, you should be aware that there are several ways to combat alcoholism. Just as there are variations on the addiction due to personalities and differences in people there are also differing treatment programs. What works for one person may not work for another in other words. Some options may include:

  1. Medication
  2. In patient therapy
  3. Out Patient therapy
  4. Holistic approaches
  5. Gender focused facilities
  6. Secular support groups


If you have found yourself at the mercy of your addiction or are worried about a loved one, the good news is there are various places you can seek assistance. Some people are not comfortable with the inherent message of AA and need another alternative to kick the habit, and thankfully, there are many to choose from!

Author's Bio: 

Charles Somerville has more on who is an alcoholic and information about how to get help and treatment on his site at The-Alcoholism-Guide.org