What is a Blackout?

Blackout Drinking Can Be A Sign of Alcoholism

Drinkers can experience a “blackout” when they have consumed enough alcohol to cause a loss of memory. Although they are conscious and appear awake, they can not recall certain memories that occurred during their drinking experience. When a drinker has a blackout they simply can not recall what they did or what they might have said to others while they where drinking. This would explain why the drinker may have said hurtful things or have participated in inappropriate behaviors and appear to have no regrets for their actions. They simply may not be able to remember what they did.

As someone drinks and becomes intoxicated, alcohol causes the production of acetaldehyde in their liver. Eventually, alcohol and acetaldehyde enter the blood stream and damages the cells in the brain that effect one’s memory. Although it is not uncommon for people to experience some blurred memories while drinking heavily, the black out drinker may experience a total memory loss of minutes, hours or even days.

Blackout drinking is a definite sign of alcoholism and many health professionals consider it a symptom of alcoholism. Although not all alcoholics experience blackouts, those who do may not always even remember having them. In many cases, the alcoholic drinker will not know they had a blackout until someone either has told them about something they did that they can not remember or there is physical proof, such as damage to their car or waking up in a strange place.

It’s important to note that blackouts are not the same as passing out. When a drinker passes out, they are no longer conscious. They have consumed enough alcohol to shut their brain and body down. In some cases, passing out can be life threatening, particularly when drugs have been mixed with alcohol or too much alcohol has been consumed and the body can not process it.

©2011 Signsofalcoholism.org


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