The Dangers of Blackouts

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Most people would confirm that blackouts can be somewhat funny and somewhat terrifying at the same time. While the brain is experiencing a sort of mechanical failure, many people still laugh at the idea of piecing together events of the previous night after becoming intoxicated.


Drinking too much and too fast can cause blackouts. These experiences are incredibly common, especially in America, where drinking to excess is of the norm. If blackouts are occurring frequently in a person’s life, this could be a sign that they’re battling with alcoholism. Unfortunately, people are often unaware of this fact, due to how normalized drinking is in US culture. The reality is that when it comes to drinking, the more intoxicated a person gets, the more difficulties they’ll have remembering the events of the night prior.


The morning after a binge or a blackout is often filled with anxiety and regret. In addition to not being able to remember what exactly happened the night before, a person may also struggle with 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 these behaviors can have on our body and our loved ones but also how they can negatively impact the brain’s processing.


How It Happens

In previous studies, scientists have explained that blackouts are otherwise known as incidents of “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. So far, we know that the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is responsible for making and storing memories, is a central part of this phenomenon. Additionally, it’s important to note that each individual may experience blackouts differently. The type of alcohol consumed can also have an impact on the blackout experience.


What Happens the Morning After a Blackout

Researchers have made many attempts at understanding the social aspect of blacking out. They’ve found that it’s incredibly common for people – especially college students – to want to “replay” the previous night’s events the next morning in an attempt to gather all the possible details of what happened. Unfortunately, those who’ve experienced blackouts can no longer tell which details are true or false, making it increasingly easy for a person to get the story wrong. This can lead to many personal, social and legal struggles. For example, an individual may fear potential legal complications, as they may have been told that they did something illegal during a blackout when they didn’t. Conversely, someone could have engaged in illegal behavior without a trace of memory, leaving them to face unrealized consequences. In these instances, the circumstances could become extremely dangerous, especially if sexual assault, violence, theft, or other violent behaviors take place, with or without the memory of it happening.


While both male and female populations are at risk of experiencing a blackout, it appears that men are statistically more likely to experience this type of event. Unfortunately, the challenges faced, as a result, spill out into almost all other areas of life. Alcoholism and blackouts can lead to a range of difficulties, including:


  • Missing school or work
  • Falling behind on projects
  • Learning about something someone said or did that they later come to regret
  • Arguing more often with close loved ones
  • Overdose
  • Hangovers
  • Greater chances of becoming involved in illegal activity
  • Increased chances of getting into an accident
  • Legal trouble


When blackouts occur, we’re more likely to put ourselves into risky situations because we’re no longer able to think critically about the decisions that we’re making. Even when we’re not making incredibly risky decisions, we may still put ourselves into positions where we could later be in danger of legal accusations. If you notice that you are experiencing blackouts frequently, it may be beneficial to educate yourself on alcoholism and it’s available treatments. Doing so could be a matter of life and death. At the very least, it could keep you out of some serious trouble.


Noticing Alcoholism

A single blackout may not be cause for major concern. However, if blackouts are occurring often, or if you are beginning to choose drinking over friendships, hobbies, and activities that you previously enjoyed, it may be time to consider seeking treatment. Blackouts can become a major sign of alcoholism if they start happening consistently. The earlier you reach out for support, the greater your chances of success in your recovery.


In our society, blackouts may be seen as a common occurrence, but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe. Alcoholism can creep into your life when you least suspect it, and if proper precautions aren’t taken in the beginning, greater issues may arise as your drinking continues.


At Avalon Malibu, we are committed to guiding our clients as they begin the journey of recovery. We know how overwhelming it can feel to face alcoholism and/or substance use, and we are here to make sure you never have to go through it alone. Our experienced professionals will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that will support your unique goals and needs. It’s never too late to make a change, and a healthier and happier life is just around the corner. If you’re ready to take the first step, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today, at 844-857-5992.

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