The 5 Types of Problem Alcohol Drinkers


According to new research from Penn State University, there isn’t just one type of problem drinker. In fact  there are as many as 5 distinct types of problem drinker profiles.

Researchers found that disordered drinking can vary from person to person.

For one drinker, problem drinking may involve falling over and getting themselves in dangerous situations while for others it may not seem to interfere with their lives at all.

Scientists also found that certain drinking profiles were more common at different life stages, for example young adults may be more likely to experience adverse effects such as hangovers and withdrawal symptoms while older drinkers may struggle with alcohol-related injuries more often.

Researchers outlined the following 5 problem drinking profiles, which may help you identify a problem drinker among your friends, family or patrons,

  1. 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 injury.

  2. Difficulty cutting back: People in this group struggled with wanting to cut back on their problematic drinking but being unable to.

  3. Highly problematic, low perceived life interference: While people in this group reported experiencing many symptoms, they said their drinking did not interfere with their family, friends, work or hobbies.

  4. Adverse effects only: People who fit this profile reported experiencing hangovers or withdrawal symptoms in addition to drinking too much.

  5. Highly problematic: People in this group reported experiencing every symptom of alcohol use disorder.


According to an assistant research professor at the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Ashley Linden-Carmichael, author of the groundbreaking study, the findings may have crucial implications for how alcoholism is understood and treated in the future.

Linden-Carmichael says the research shows that we should think beyond whether a person has an alcohol use disorder and look specifically at what they’re struggling with and whether they’re in a particularly risky category.

Alcoholism can affect many aspects of a person’s wellbeing, including their physical and mental health.

According to statistics, the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has grown over the past decade by a staggering 94% for people between 15-50 years and by 150% for people over 60 years old.