Typologies of alcohol dependence. From Jellinek to genetics and beyond.
The goal of typology research is to identify subtypes of alcohol dependent (AD) patients sharing fundamental characteristics and try to match each subtype, with the most precise treatment strategy. This review provides a comprehensive history of the literature on alcohol dependent subtypes starting from the earliest attempt made by Jellinek. The binary models identified most closely with Cloninger and Babor as well as the successively more complex classifications are discussed. Typology classification potentially useful in guiding the treatment of AD patients, especially in the case of the serotonergic medications. Contrasting data suggests that other factors could influence the response to a medication and/or that more complex typologies should be identified. In summary, typology models may assist in the ascertainment criteria for clinical trials performed in behavioral and pharmacotherapeutic interventions. Greater emphasis, however, must be made to more clearly delineate this field of research, while moving toward more standardized typologies.