5 types of drunks (according to psychology)

In this article, you will read about the types of drunks, according to psychology.

You will also read a thorough guide on the effects of alcohol consumption. 

The 5 types of drunks

Because we are different, we have different ways of drinking.

Alcohol abuse and addiction change from one to the other depending on the frequency and amount of drinking, the motivation for consumption and the break between periods of consumption.

Professor E. M. Jellinek, in 1960, studied the drinking behaviour of alcoholics and described five types of drinkers:

 ALFA type drinkers – The main reason for consumption: relaxation, de-stressing, escaping from unpleasant moods.

They consume alcohol to relieve themselves, trying to solve various problems. In this type, there is still control over alcohol consumption but gradually addiction can set in.

Examples: drinking a glass before dancing, before an important meeting, at home in front of the TV in the evening, etc.

BETA drinkers – The main reason for consumption: the habit of associating any situation/event with alcohol consumption. They frequently consume alcohol on various occasions without addiction being installed.

However, there may be some allegations of organic complications due to alcohol abuse (liver, stomach, etc.)

Examples: drinking alcohol at weddings, baptisms, parties, holidays, anniversaries, etc.

GAMA type drinkers – The main reason for consumption: mental and physical need for consumption, in the absence of consumption there are unpleasant mental and physical conditions (depression, irritability, nervousness, melancholy, aggression, psychomotor agitation, pain and physical ailments). 

They are addicted to alcohol primarily mentally, but also physically.

They can no longer control the amount of alcohol consumed (after the first glasses they lose weight, continue to consume, the state of intoxication appears).

Examples: consume during the day on different occasions, especially in the morning to eliminate unpleasant symptoms (trembling hands, the weight of speech, loss of balance) and in the evening to have a somewhat comfortable sleep.

DELTA type drinkers – The main reason for consumption: the physical need to consume alcohol, habit.

They are addicted to alcohol primarily physically. I can keep control over the amount of alcohol consumed for a longer period of time (I don’t get drunk, but I can’t give up either).

For example, the daily habit, after work, with colleagues to drink 2 beers at the bar in the neighbourhood.

EPSILON type drinkers  – The main reason for consumption: decompensation, lack of ability to maintain a balance, state of exhaustion or exceeding the physical and mental functional resources.

They are addicted to alcohol, consuming uncontrollably for several days, but also having longer periods without abusive consumption. 

In terms of length of time, breaks between consumption episodes can vary from a few weeks to 5-6 months.

Example: after a break of 6 months, New Year’s Eve begins consumption and lasts 1-2 weeks, the person being almost permanently drunk.

Another categorization of alcohol consumers can be:

Types of drunks: “slaves of the group” – those who can not say “NO” to the group; who want to be “accepted” or gain a certain position in the group by adopting this behaviour: “I drink because my friends do too”; “I drink because otherwise, the others will laugh at me!”

Types of drunks: “slaves of their own image” – people who use this behaviour to create or maintain a certain image. “I drink because that’s what men do!”; “I drink because I will be stronger and more interesting!”

Types of drunks: “slaves to their own weaknesses” – people who consume alcohol because they think it will solve their problems.

“I have a lot of problems that I don’t know how to solve! ” “I drink because I like it!”

The effects of alcohol consumption

Alcoholism has innumerable effects both on the person in question and on those around him, and we are talking about effects related to the psychological sphere but also to physical effects.

Alcohol abuse is the cause of most injuries, including car accidents, for example.

One-third of fatal accidents are related to alcohol consumption, not counting the thousands of injured resulting each year.

Alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts, greatly increases the risk of having unprotected sex, thus increasing the risk of disease.

In some cases, more complicated “effects” appear in the sphere of unwanted pregnancies.

Another unpleasant effect, dangerous for both the person and others, is violence and aggression.

Under the influence of alcohol consumption, you can misinterpret a remark or gesture, which can lead to aggressive and violent behaviours.

Alcohol consumption has multiple effects on the body:

  • Alcohol acts in the body as a stress factor: increases blood pressure, is released into the blood, several substances such as lipids, sugars, cortisone.
  • The body uses energy to remove alcohol from the body, energy that would have been necessary for their proper functioning. The metabolism of alcohol in the liver “steals” 80% of the oxygen needed for the functioning of this organ. Thus alcohol becomes a “metabolic parasite”. Heart and nerve cells have the highest oxygen consumption and suffer the most from alcohol.
  • Alcohol abuse, morning consumption “on an empty stomach”, leads to malnutrition. The body is deprived of protein, minerals and vitamins. In addition to reducing the intake of these important elements in food, excess ethanol has the effect of progressively reducing the ability of the small intestine to absorb important substances such as vitamin B1, folic acid, and later sodium and water.
  •  Highly toxic products resulting from the breakdown of alcohol (eg acetaldehyde) affect nerve cells.
  • The progressive inability of the small intestine to absorb substances vital to the proper functioning of the body (vitamins especially A and C, mineral salts), causes nervous disorders and disorders of somatic origin. Loss of calcium, phosphates and vitamin D due to alcohol consumption leads to loss of bone mass and increased risk of fracture. Inflammation of the gastric and duodenal mucosa, as well as cracks in the lower oesophagus, lead to severe bleeding. Permanent alcohol consumption increases ten times the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Under the incidence of suffering, the heart muscle also enters. The disease of this muscle is called cardiomyopathy. Four times more alcoholics die from heart disorders than from cirrhosis.

The most common somatic complications caused by alcohol consumption are toxic gastritis, ulcers, pancreatitis, diabetes, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, peripheral polyneuritis, seizures, strokes and myocardial infarction.

Another series of effects are those on the brain, nervous system and psyche. Initially and in small doses, there is a stimulating effect (increases verbal flow, inhibitions disappear, increases the degree of nervous irritability) on the psyche.

It is also called the euphoric or exciting phase of consumption. Consumed in higher doses, however, alcohol has an inhibitory effect (weak reactions to painful stimuli, poor discernment, impaired attention and memory).

The psychological effects of alcohol consumption can create the impression of overcoming states of fear and inhibition, can make loneliness more bearable, and diminish feelings of inferiority.

However, alcohol causes the gradual destruction of neurons and this is observed over time, especially by people close to the alcoholic.

This reduction in the number of neurons also causes a reduction in brain performance, visible in decreased memory function (memory gaps appear), the ability to think, understand, lose critical sense and discernment.

 And abusive consumption can cause organic damage to the central nervous system over time that can lead to seizures, delirium tremens or dementia.

The alcohol addict manifests an emotional cold, a gradual alteration of feelings, frequent ailments and sudden changes of opinion.

The following may also occur:

  • anxiety, irritability;
  •  sleep disorders, nightmares;
  • depression, fear, inferiority complexes sometimes hidden behind a façade of grandiosity;
  • lack of will, promises but does not keep its promise;
  • isolation and reduction of spheres of interest;
  • lack of body hygiene, physical and mental decay.

Alcohol addiction causes in time the alteration of feelings and relationships with family members, disruption of interpersonal relationships at work and in the circle of friends, reduced feelings of responsibility, neglect of children’s education, delay and absence from work, accidents at work and traffic, delinquency, divorce, loss of housing and employment.

What is alcohol addiction

The essential element of dependence on any substance is a group of cognitive, behavioural and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues to use the substance despite the occurrence of significant problems with the substance. 

There is a pattern of repeated self-administration that usually leads to tolerance, abstinence, and compulsive drug behaviour.

The burning desire is likely to be experienced by most individuals with a dependence on one substance, if not all.

 Tolerance is defined as the need for increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect.

It can also manifest itself as the sensation of a considerably diminished effect by continuing to use the same amount of substance.

Abstinence is a maladaptive change in behaviour with physiological and cognitive consequences that occurs when the blood or tissue concentrations of a substantial decrease in that individual who has maintained a prolonged use of large amounts of the substance.

After developing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, it is possible for the person to take the substance to relieve their symptoms or to avoid them, usually using the substance throughout the day, starting soon after waking up.

Physiological dependence on alcohol is indicated by the presence of tolerance or abstinence symptoms.

Alcohol abstinence is characterized by the development of withdrawal symptoms (vegetative hyperactivity, marked tremor of the hands, insomnia, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting) within 12 hours or more after reduced intake following prolonged and excessive alcohol intake. 

Once a pattern of compulsive use develops, addicted individuals may devote substantial periods of time to obtaining and consuming alcoholic beverages.

These individuals continue to use alcohol despite evidence of adverse psychological or somatic consequences (depression, liver disease, etc.).

Consequently, alcoholism or alcohol dependence is the consumption of alcoholic beverages, occasionally or periodically, regardless of means or consequences on the person or family, in order to change the mood or to avoid unpleasant physical or mental states caused by withdrawal.


In this article, you read about the 5  types of drunks. You also read a thorough guide on the effects of alcohol consumption, and what is alcohol addiction.  

Whether in the form of beer, wine or liqueur, alcoholic beverages are chemicals that affect mental, emotional and behavioural activity. Remember that alcohol is a powerful drug!

Because alcohol is so common and affordable in our culture, we forget that alcohol is a drug with effects similar to banned drugs. 

Alcohol thus becomes an increasing risk because it can be accepted and encouraged by those around it and at least temporarily can make them look and feel older.

Alcohol consumption thus becomes a behaviour based on social learning.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ about the types of drunks 

Does drinking show your true personality?

Drinking does not show your true personality, this is a myth.

Why do drunks get mean?

Drunks get mean because alcohol causes changes in the prefrontal cortex — the region of the brain thought to be responsible for moderating social behaviour and aggression.

What happens when a person drinks alcohol every day?

When a person drinks alcohol every day, he/she will become addicted to this substance.

Alcohol addiction causes in time the alteration of feelings and relationships with family members, disruption of interpersonal relationships at work and in the circle of friends, reduced feelings of responsibility, neglect of children’s education, delay and absence from work, accidents at work and traffic, delinquency, divorce, loss of housing and employment.


Barnes, G. E., 1979, The alcoholic personality: A reanalysis of the literature, J. Stud. Alcohol 40: 571.

Cahalan, D., Cisin, I., and Crossley, H. 1974, American Drinking Practices, Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Fox, R. A., 1957, A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of alcoholism, Am. J. Psych. 123: 769.

Goodwin, D. W., Schulsinger, F., Hermansen, L. Guze, S. B., and Winokur, G., 1973, Alcohol problems in adoptees raised apart from alcoholic biological parents. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 28: 238.

Jellinek, E. M., 1960, The Disease Concept of Alcoholism, Hillhouse Press, New Haven.