Alcoholism and Blackouts: What You Need to Know

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Alcoholism and Blackouts: What You Need to Know

In 2017, a young woman’s story was published via the U.S. News; at 11 years old, she had her first blackout as she was partying with her cousin. She explained, “I thought it was really insane…it’s like the brain suffers a mechanical failure. The problem with all this is that it’s funny in some ways and horrible in others. 

Drinking too much and too fast can cause blackouts, and they’re incredibly common – especially in a culture that supports excessive drinking. If blackouts are occurring frequently in a person’s life, this could be a sign that they’re battling alcoholism – but in many cases, individuals don’t even know this because it’s considered quite a “normal” experience. Healthline, a website that publishes information related to a variety of health conditions, notes that as a person’s blood alcohol level increases, the rate and length of a person’s memory loss will also increase.

The ”day after” or the “morning after” are often situations filled with humiliating details, but the after-math effects are serious; along with not remembering what a person is doing while experiencing a blackout, they may also have: impaired vision, impaired judgment, difficulty standing, walking and more. For those who understand the severe impact of alcoholism, recovery is about understanding not only the harmful effects that these behaviors can cause to our body and to those around us, but also understanding the mechanisms for how alcohol directly affects the brain.

How Blackouts Happen

Last year, the Scientific American – a website that publishes relevant information pertaining to the mind, health, technology, sustainability, education and more – explained that blackouts are otherwise known as “temporary anterograde amnesia” which is a condition where the ability to form new memories is, temporarily, impaired. 

Researchers are still trying to discover exactly how blackouts occur – the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is responsible for making and storing memories, is obviously involved; in addition to this, previous research has shown that blackouts vary from person to person. Further investigations are exploring the types of blackouts that occur depending on not only the person, but on the alcohol consumed – and so far, it’s clear that alcohol can have serious implications on cognitive functioning and more.

“The Morning After” Effect of Blackouts 

The British Psychological Society covered a study that was conducted of 280 students who’d experienced alcohol-induced blackouts and found that these students were often highly motivated to re-construct the previous night’s events the next morning, after the blackout. Unfortunately, these students reported basing their facts and information off other friends who’d been drinking – which could easily lead to false memories and false representations of what actually happened when a person was intoxicated. In these instances, the circumstances could become extremely dangerous – especially if sexual assault, violence, theft, or other dangerous activity occurred yet was not recalled by memory.

Out of the study, it was concluded that men were more likely to experience blackouts than women – but with less stringent concerns about drinking, both populations are at risk. There are a number of health concerns that come with excessive drinking, such as:

  •       Absence from class or work
  •       Getting behind in school or work projects
  •       Discovering that a person did or said something that later came to regret
  •       Increased arguments with close friends or family
  •       Overdose
  •       Hangovers
  •       Greater chances of becoming involved in illegal activity
  •       Heightened risk for accidents
  •       Legal trouble

When blackouts occur, we’re more likely to put ourselves into risky situations because we’ve lost the capabilities to think clearly and critically about decisions that we’re making. 

Researchers from the study stated,“We can only speculate about the consequences that blackout sufferers’ false beliefs and memories could have in some cases. For instances, archival studies suggest that numerous innocent people have confessed to crimes after being led to believe they committed acts while drunk…”

In instances such as these, the false representations that we may come to believe – because we don’t have any other evidence telling us otherwise – can place us at great risk legally, in addition to the risks that come to our health. 

It’s Time to Seek Help 

A one-time occurrence may not spark major concern for treatment, but if blackouts are occurring often, or if a person is beginning to favor drinking over hobbies, work, family responsibilities and more, help needs to be sought. Blackouts can become a major sign of alcoholism if they occur often – but seeking help early on can help a person develop the tools they need to move forward in their life.

Avalon Malibu focuses on the whole person, and with a personalized treatment plan and a support system, you’ll be well on your way towards healing and rejuvenation. If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today. 

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life. 

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