Who Alcoholism Affects (2023)

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Alcoholism doesn't discriminate; it can affect any age, sex, gender, race, or education. Fortunately, there treatment options for all.

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Though alcoholism enters lives in different ways, developing a dependency on alcohol can hurt anyone. Alcoholism impacts individuals of all ages, genders, orientations, professions, religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses. Tragically, alcoholism doesn’t just impact the alcoholic themselves, but also those who love and depend on them. Looking at how different factors increase a person’s risk for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can help to determine who alcoholism affects.


Teenage years are the riskiest time to develop an alcohol dependence. Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to be one who alcoholism affects later on in life. On top of that, an individual’s brain is still developing well into their twenties. Excessive drinking can alter that development, affecting cognitive functions, causing learning problems, restructuring the way synapses are formed, and requiring alcohol to have some semblance of normal function.

Catching and treating alcohol addiction at this early age can be crucial to turning a youth’s life around. If you are a teen or the parent of a teen struggling with addiction, contact a treatment provider today. It can mean a lifetime of change.

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College Students

Binge drinking has now become part of the “college experience” that many students expect. In particular, binge drinking has been glamorized to the point where it is the primary focus of many parties and games students engage in. The party culture of college causes people of this age group to be at risk for being who alcoholism affects.

Putting aside the sheer number of deaths and assaults that have resulted from college drinking and looking solely at the academic issues, 1 in 4 students admitted to having experienced academic issues because of drinking. Dropping classes, missing deadlines, and being put on academic probation can potentially jeopardize the student’s future and chance at their dream career.


Finding a job and supporting your family is expected of most in our society, but the daily grind of a full-time job can push workers to look for a release. For many, this release is after-work drinking.

Problems arise when a professional is no longer able to limit their alcohol consumption, for example sneaking drinks during breaks or even at their desk. This can affect performance and cause unnecessary risk of injury in the workplace. This is especially true in jobs that require the operation of heavy machinery or other dangerous equipment.

Many alcoholics rationalize their addiction, thinking that it is only themselves they are affecting. However, when they allow their addiction to enter their place of work, they can be setting off a chain reaction that harms many others down the line.

Senior Citizens

The effects of aging are thought to be well-known, but the true mental changes seniors go through are often hard to determine from the outside. As people start to get older, many find it harder to cope with the changes that they see every day. What used to be one regular drink can easily become two or three when they are feeling extra stressed.

An additional problem is that friends and family often dismiss the signs as, “Well, that’s just how they are”. Meanwhile, senior citizens are facing an increasingly uncertain retirement, a decline in memory, and an increasing need for help. At the same time that these drastic status changes are pushing many seniors to increase their alcohol consumption, their bodies are changing as well, leaving them unable to process alcohol as well as they used to. This combination makes it easier for people of advanced age to unknowingly and rapidly develop a dependency. Even if a senior citizen has not someone who alcoholism affects in the past, an AUD can still develop at this age.

If there is a senior citizen in your life who you’re afraid may be hurt or worse, please get in touch with a treatment provider today, for rehab-related help.


After their service ends, it is often difficult for soldiers to return to civilian life. Up to 25% of former service members are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or some kind of anxiety disorder. Many turn to alcohol to self-medicate as a result. However, the relaxing effects that many seek from alcohol often do not occur when a co-occurring disorder is present. In fact, alcohol can make achieving deep sleep more difficult and cause more intense PTSD symptoms during waking hours. Veterans suffering from alcoholism on top of other mental health issues can become dangerous to themselves and others.

To truly treat one’s PTSD, he or she must first treat their addiction. True recovery can only happen when their crutches are given up and they can stand on their own. This can be especially difficult, as alcohol withdrawal can intensify PTSD, but anything is possible with the right help.

The LGBTQ Community

In the LGBTQ community, especially among teens, there are many situations that lend themselves to high amounts of stress. Discovering yourself, telling your loved ones, and fear of rejection can make alcohol seem like the easy answer. Additionally, due to discrimination, many traditional LGBTQ meeting places and social events are closely linked to alcohol, including bars and parties. As a result, dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are deeply embedded in many LGBTQ communities. These environments put the LGBTQ community at risk for being who alcoholism affects.

Due to the higher risk of discrimination and stigma compared to non-LGBTQ demographics, the abuse of alcohol is also more likely to lead to co-occurring disorders. This often makes the severity of the abuse worse. Dealing with these issues without someone who understands the depth of the situation can add unnecessary difficulty.

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Medical Professionals

The medical profession creates constant emotional, stressful situations that are often clouded with death. Because of this, many medical professionals feel the need for release. This profession where the lives of others fall on your shoulders can weigh heavily on one’s mind, but the abuse of alcohol is a deterrent to their ability and could directly lead to the harm of a patient.

The problem of medical professional alcoholism is very real. One study found that 15.4% of surgeons had an alcohol use disorder of some severity. Surgeons who had reported a major medical error in the three months leading up to the survey from being “burned out” or depressed were more likely to have an alcohol dependence.

It can be extremely hard for a medical professional to come forward and admit that they have been affected by alcoholism. They risk their careers, social lives, and all that they’ve worked for. Despite this, it is crucial to come forward. The harm and potential death of a patient can be the beginning of a dark spiral, especially if it happens while under the influence.


While there are many options out there for alcoholics to get sober, the vast majority are based around the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program. This program, developed in the 1930s, is male-centric. This is problematic because women interact with alcohol differently than men at a biological level. Women are more susceptible to dependency and other diseases from over-consumption. Smaller amounts of alcohol impact women more strongly, as they generally have more fat than men and produce less alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol before it can be absorbed into the blood).

The largest issue is the sociological difference between men and women. One of the steps AA devised in alcoholism recovery, is admitting you’re powerless against alcohol. This may work for men, but there is a clear difference in the social structure. Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink-And How They Can Regain Control, wrote about how it is important for women to gain control, rather than admit they have none.


Raising a child inherently involves stress, trying to keep them safe and fed, while guiding them through life and worrying about their safety. It can open the doors to temptation, to find relaxation in a bottle. This use of alcohol as way to cope and relax can make parents one of those who alcoholism affects. Unfortunately, alcohol use isn’t a solution; it just worsens the issue. Dependency on alcohol will just cause more stress in situations when it isn’t available, and you may find your child is slipping through the cracks.

If you are a child of an alcoholic, the first thing to understand is that it isn’t your fault. While it may seem like it, and your parent may outright say it, it isn’t. However, you can help guide your alcoholic parent to seek treatment that will greatly improve the quality of their life and yours.

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High Functioning Alcoholics

The term, “high functioning alcoholics,” may seem like an oxymoron to most, but millions of Americans fall into this category. A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who suffers from an alcohol use disorder but who is able to mask it through personal, professional, and familial success. High functioning alcoholics often have vast networks of friends and family and high paying jobs. High functioning alcoholics differ from the stereotype of a rock-bottom alcoholic, but they still suffer from an addiction. They have a mental dependency on alcohol, binge drink when they are in a situation where it is deemed “acceptable,” and drink before and after events so that they’re not openly criticized.

They can be well educated, successful, and affluent, but their AUD still causes a strain on their lives and relationships, hurting the ones closest to them. Success can’t justify damaging behavior. They may not realize it until something negative happens, like they are arrested or cause a major accident, but their addiction is just as damaging as any other.

Finding Help For Those Who Alcoholism Affects

No matter who you are, there are alcoholism treatment centers that will be able to help you get clean and stay clean. Contact a treatment provider now for rehab-related help.


Who are greatly affected by alcoholism? ›

Who Does Alcoholism Really Affect?
  • College Alcoholism. Of all college students in the U.S., approximately 45% of students ages 18-24 engage in what can be considered 'heavy episodic drinking. ...
  • Pregnant Women. ...
  • Professionals. ...
  • Senior Citizens. ...
  • Underage Drinking. ...
  • Veterans. ...
  • Women. ...
  • LGBTQ.
Feb 24, 2022

What kind of people are prone to alcoholism? ›

The DSM-5 states that people with preexisting mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are highly vulnerable to developing AUD. Depressive and anxiety disorders are also commonly seen with AUD.

Which groups of people are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol? ›

Older adults: Increased risk of harms.

The increased sensitivity to alcohol in older adults raises their risk for many health problems, including injuries (commonly from falls), memory problems, liver disease, sleep problems, and overall mortality.

What personality traits lead to alcoholism? ›

More specifically, though traits related to impulsivity/disinhibition appear to demonstrate the most robust and consistent relation with alcohol involvement, all Five-Factor traits (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism) have been shown to correspond, with varying ...

Who has the highest rates of alcoholism? ›

As far as the use of alcohol is a concern, the top countries in the world with the heaviest adult drinkers are as follows:
  • Grenada.
  • Czech Republic.
  • France.
  • Russia.
  • Ireland.
  • Luxembourg.
  • Slovakia.
  • Germany.
Mar 16, 2023

What age group is most affected by alcoholism? ›

Who binge drinks? Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34. Binge drinking is more common among men than among women.

What are the 5 most common causes of alcoholism? ›

Let's cover some of them below:
  • Stressful environments. While not every person turns to alcohol to relieve stress, some people do. ...
  • Drinking at an early age. ...
  • Mental health problems like depression. ...
  • Taking alcohol with medicine. ...
  • Family history.

Why do some people drink so much? ›

Some people use alcohol for self-medication because they feel like their minds need an escape. People who suffer from mental illness may find it difficult to cope without substances like alcohol and drugs. It may result in a co-occurring disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar.

What are the 7 factors that can influence the effect alcohol has on a person? ›

Genetics, body weight, gender, age, what type of beverage, food in your stomach, medications in your system, and your state of health, influence how people respond to alcohol.

Is 2 drinks a day an alcoholic? ›

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for women at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it is no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks per week.

How many drinks per week is considered an alcoholic? ›

Heavy Alcohol Use:

For men, consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week.

Why do guys like to drink so much? ›

While alcohol is a depressant, when it comes to pharmacology, it also releases dopamine, the “pleasure hormone,” which produces a warm and happy feeling. The study also found that the “social contract” in drinking situations brings men together.

What is the psychological profile of an alcoholic person? ›

Other Common Alcoholic Personality Traits

Those with alcoholism may behave in sneaky, deceptive, manipulative, or secretive ways, typically in an attempt to hide their problematic drinking. Others will be irritable, anxious, and aggressive both when they drink and when they go through alcohol withdrawal.

Do alcoholics have narcissistic tendencies? ›

Although alcohol misuse and AUD can cause someone to display narcissist-like behavior, this behavior might change when they're sober or in recovery. The behavior might also only appear when their misuse began.

Are narcissists more likely to be alcoholics? ›

Narcissistic personality disorder is just one of several personality disorders that can be dual diagnosed with alcoholism. However, there is some evidence that having narcissistic personality disorder can make you more vulnerable to alcohol abuse, according to a study from the National Institute of Health.

What profession has the most drinkers? ›

Lawyers: Some reports suggest as many as one in five attorneys struggles with problem drinking, including binge and heavy drinking. This is twice the national rate.

What are the effects of 20 years of heavy drinking? ›

Long-Term Health Risks. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

What is the most drunk state in the US? ›

The 10 states with the highest alcohol consumption levels in the US are New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Maine, Delaware, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Pennsylvania. These states have higher per capita alcohol consumption than any other states in the country.

What are the 4 types of drinker? ›

There are four types of drinker – which one are you?
  • Social drinking. To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults. ...
  • Drinking to conform. ...
  • Drinking for enhancement. ...
  • Drinking to cope.

When does drinking become a problem? ›

Health care providers consider your drinking medically unsafe when you drink: Many times a month, or even many times a week. 3 to 4 drinks (or more) in 1 day. 5 or more drinks on one occasion monthly, or even weekly.

What percentage of heavy drinkers become alcoholics? ›

…about 29 percent of the population meets the definition for excessive drinking, but 90 percent of them do not meet the definition of alcoholism.… [Dr.

What are 3 symptoms of an alcoholic? ›

Signs and symptoms may include:
  • Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use.
  • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol.
May 18, 2022

What are the 3 types of alcoholic? ›

Alcohols bind with other atoms to create secondary alcohols. These secondary alcohols are the three types of alcohol that humans use every day: methanol, isopropanol, and ethanol.

What are the 5 A's of alcoholism? ›

Clinical guidelines recommend addressing adolescent alcohol use in primary care; the 5 As (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange) may be a useful model for intervention.

Can you drink everyday and not be an alcoholic? ›

Myth: I don't drink every day OR I only drink wine or beer, so I can't be an alcoholic. Fact: Alcoholism is NOT defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. It's the EFFECTS of your drinking that define a problem.

What do you call a person who drinks alcohol everyday? ›

toper. A toper is “a hard drinker or chronic drunkard.”

What is considered to be an alcoholic? ›

A woman who has more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks per occasion. A man who has more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks per occasion. Older than 65 years and having more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks per occasion.

Why do some people react so badly to alcohol? ›

Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn't have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions.

What are three factors that contribute to alcoholism? ›

Gender, family history, comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders, and age all influence a person's risk for alcoholism. In addition, these factors interact with alcoholism to influence neurocognitive functioning following detoxification.

What is the main way alcohol is removed from the body? ›

Once alcohol has entered your bloodstream it remains in your body until it is processed. About 90-98 per cent of alcohol that you drink is broken down in your liver. The other 2-10 per cent of alcohol is removed in your urine, breathed out through your lungs or excreted in your sweat.

What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol? ›

What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol?
  • fatigue.
  • swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet due to fluid retention.
  • loss of appetite.
  • change in urine.
  • kidney pain.
Apr 26, 2022

What is the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic? ›

Problem drinking is using alcohol in a way that can negatively impact your health and your life, but the body is not physically dependent on the substance. Alcoholism, on the other hand, most likely includes the physical addiction to alcohol in addition to the problems it may cause your health and your life.

What is the least harmful alcohol to drink? ›

Red wine, whiskey, tequila, and hard kombucha are healthier options than beer and sugary drinks. The CDC recommends you limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day if you're male and 1 if you're female.

Is a bottle of wine a day too much? ›

Drinking a bottle of wine a day may rapidly increase the likelihood of physical and chemical alcohol addiction developing. Drinking a bottle per day equates to approximately 9 units per day or 63 units per week, far in excess of UK NHS recommended guidelines (14 units per week)[1].

What alcohol does to your body after the age of 40? ›

Lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage. Worsen some health conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss, and mood disorders. Make some medical conditions hard for doctors to accurately diagnose and treat.

Should you date someone who drinks too much? ›

Why you shouldn't date an alcoholic. It is quite common for people who are dating someone who drinks too much to experience strong emotions like frustration, anger, and anxiety. Dating an alcoholic can also put you at physical risk of violence, injuries, and accidents.

Why does my husband want to drink all the time? ›

More often, they drink due to life situations that can cause anxiety, fear, depression, worry, and other negative expressions. Addiction specialists should begin treatment by addressing alcohol misuse and mental health concerns that may cause or contribute to ongoing drinking habits.

How to love someone who drinks too much? ›

How To Help Someone You Know Who Drinks Too Much
  1. Step 1: Talk. Talk about your worries when the person is sober. ...
  2. Step 2: Offer your help. Suggest activities that don't include drinking alcohol. ...
  3. Step 3: Take care of yourself. Caring for someone with alcohol misuse or use disorder can be stressful.

What personality disorders do alcoholics have? ›

There is a strong association between antisocial personality disorder and alcoholism. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for laws and authority. People who have antisocial personality disorder engage in dangerous behaviors, lack guilt and display low impulse control.

What personality types are prone to alcoholism? ›

Studies have shown that both introverted judging and perceiving types are prone to negative feelings about themselves and more likely to suffer from addiction.

What personality disorders are common in alcoholics? ›

The personality traits most often found to be related to excessive alcohol consumption are impulsivity/disinhibition and neuroticism/negative affectivity, whereas the significance of other personality characteristics such as extraversion/ sociability remains inconclusive (10, 28-29).

Why do alcoholics have no empathy? ›

Too much alcohol can ruin a man's appreciation of irony and block feelings of empathy. And that's true even when he's sober, a new study suggests. Scientists suspect that chronic heavy drinking damages parts of the brain that are crucial to decoding others' emotions and to processing humor, especially irony.

Do alcoholics ever apologize? ›

While some alcoholics apologize for their behavior and promise to turn over a new leaf, if they only talk the talk but don't walk the walk, their repeated apologies and broken promises eventually carry little weight with those around them.

How do you tell the difference between a narcissist and an alcoholic? ›

Narcissism is a personality disorder that may cause individuals to display grandiose and self-involved behaviors. Alcoholism is an addiction where people cannot control their alcohol use. Narcissism and alcoholism may both share similar characteristics and can occur at the same time.

Why do narcissists drink so much? ›

Someone with narcissism may use alcohol to cope with their personal problems. They may drink alone to conceal their insecurity from the rest of the world. Both conditions may cause someone to engage in similar behaviors. A person may view others as enablers who will help them get attention and alcohol.

How do narcissists act when they are drunk? ›

Drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions and can increase other narcissist behaviors including self-absorption, denial, illusions of grandeur, and destructiveness. These behaviors can lead to poor choices, including drinking and driving or excessive consumption, which can be fatal.

What addictions do narcissists have? ›

People with narcissistic personality disorders share similar traits with addicts, and both types of narcissistic personality disorder may lead to addiction. Many people with narcissism may also have an addiction to alcohol, sex, drugs, or social media.

What segments of the population are most affected by alcohol use and why? ›

Large national surveys, such as the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found that young adults ages 18–25 were at particularly high risk of alcohol use disorder and unintentional injury caused by drinking.

What is the major impact of alcoholism on society? ›

The effects of alcohol abuse on families show that alcohol abuse and addiction both play a direct role in intimate partner violence, stirs up financial issues in the affected family, impairs decision-making skills, and is a major contributor to child abuse and neglect cases.

What do alcoholics suffer from? ›

High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum. Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.

What social factors contribute to alcohol? ›

Social Factors

Your culture, religion, family and work influence many of your behaviors, including drinking. Family plays the biggest role in a person's likelihood of developing alcoholism. Children who are exposed to alcohol abuse from an early age are more at risk of falling into a dangerous drinking pattern.

What are three factors that influence alcohol consumption? ›

Gender, family history, comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders, and age all influence a person's risk for alcoholism.

What are 3 social effects of alcohol? ›

Social consequences
  • financial problems due to excessive spending on alcohol.
  • limited career opportunities due to a conviction for an alcohol-related offence.
  • impacts on work performance.
  • losing friends because of the way you act when you're drunk.

What are four strategies for treating alcoholism? ›

Behavioral Treatments
  • Developing the skills needed to stop or reduce drinking.
  • Helping to build a strong social support system.
  • Working to set reachable goals.
  • Coping with or avoiding the triggers that might cause relapse.

How does alcoholism affect quality of life? ›

Brain: Drinking too much can affect your concentration, judgement, mood and memory. It increases your risk of having a stroke and developing dementia. Heart: Heavy drinking increases your blood pressure and can lead to heart damage and heart attacks.


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