Just as no two people are alike, no two stories of alcohol abuse will be exactly the same. There is variety and individuality even in our difficulties. A recent study tracked 177 people with admitted risky drinking patterns for five months.
At the end of the study researchers had identified eight separate categories of problem drinkers:
1. Weekend Drinkers – Three or four drinks, two or three times each weekend
Nineteen individuals wound up in this category. Most of them were single females. Better than half of the group reported symptoms of personality disorder, the most common mental health issue amongst the participants. Weekend drinkers were not likely to abuse drugs and their drinking appeared to have little or no effect on relationships or work. Just one person in the group reported readiness to change.
2. Heavier Weekend Drinkers – Four or five drinks, once or twice each weekend
This group was made up of 28 people in all and it was also mostly single females (78 percent). The category is similar to group number one, but with an added drink on each occasion. One other noteworthy difference was the fact that this group who drank only slightly more showed a markedly higher degree of dissatisfaction with their drinking –42 percent said they were not happy with their lifestyle and were ready for a change.
3. Weekend Mostly Drinkers – Five to six drinks, three or four times each week
Fourteen people fell into this description. Individuals had begun to drink heavily, but it was not yet a confirmed life pattern. Not many said they’d been alcohol-dependent for long, yet 57 percent had already sought out some form of treatment. Half of the group was ready to make changes.
4. Weekend-Plus Drinkers – Three or four drinks, two times each week
At 25 individuals this category was quite similar to group number one, with the exception that drinking was not reserved to weekends. The people in this group were mostly white, mostly young and mostly well-educated. Not many expressed a readiness to make a change.
5. Unpredictable Drinkers – Four to five drinks, one or two times per week
This group was the largest with 39 members. People in this group showed no predictable drinking pattern. Weeknight and weekend drinking were about the same. Better than one half of the individuals in the group had a father with alcohol addiction. The group members may have worked doubly hard to avoid repeating dad’s mistakes.
6. All Week Long Drinkers – Six to seven drinks, four times per week
This group qualifies as heavy drinkers. Individuals were experiencing negative outcomes related to their alcohol consumption. Many were unemployed and few were married. Group members expressed resignation and showed little interest in personal change.
7. Heavier Week-Long Drinkers – Seven drinks, usually four times each week
The category was made up of 20 persons, the majority of whose drinking had become a well-established life pattern, referred to as a lifetime dependence on alcohol. The group was 70 percent older, white males and none were married. Nearly 50 percent expressed readiness to change.
8. Sporadic Drinkers – Nine to 10 drinks, three to four times per week
This group included 15 people who would have an occasion of heavy drinking and then would abstain for a period of time. This group of heavy drinkers reported the most serious consequences related to drinking. None of the individuals were married and less than one-third had a job. More than one half also used drugs. This group had the highest amount of reported lifetime dependency and the highest number of alcohol-linked problems, but also the highest amount of willingness to change.
The research reveals how even minor changes in drinking habits can produce disproportionately greater consequences. One extra drink produces unhappiness. Mid-week drinking appears linked to work and relationship issues.