What Does Alcohol Blackout Mean?

Alcohol Blackout

Have you ever experienced getting completely knocked out after having one too many? Passing out during a heavy drinking session is nothing new, but alcohol-induced amnesia can be more dangerous than that. What does alcohol blackout mean? Let’s take a look.

What Is An Alcohol Blackout?

An alcohol blackout is brought on by consuming a lot of alcohol. It usually occurs during binge drinking sessions or by getting an abrupt increase in blood alcohol content (BAC). The terms “passing out” and “blackout” are often used interchangeably, but they don’t really mean the same thing.

When someone passes out, they lose conscious awareness and can’t move. While passing out renders a person unconscious and unable to interact with their surroundings, a blackout allows you to still do complex tasks like driving a car and carrying on a conversation. However, your memory of such events will not be effectively created or stored by your brain.

Types Of Alcohol Blackouts

There are two types of alcohol blackout: complete and partial. A complete blackout, also known as an “en bloc blackout”, happens when a person’s BAC reaches a level that prohibits the brain from processing memories–basically going into survival mode. They last until the BAC falls low enough for memory functions to resume functioning.

A partial blackout (fragmentary blackout) is similar to a full one but produces a different effect. It involves significant short-term memory loss, where you can’t remember what you did before blacking out. You can only recall when given the right cues or stimuli. Based on the circumstance, there might still be big gaps in your memories, but you will be capable of recalling some. If you suffer from a total blackout, you will not be able to remember anything.

Who Is More Prone To Alcohol Blackouts?

All drinkers run the risk of experiencing an alcohol blackout, but several conditions make it more dangerous to drink too much. Alcohol intoxication occurs much faster in women than in men due to differences in hormones and body composition—women are more likely to experience blackouts due to the rapid rise in their BAC. Teenagers and young adults are also vulnerable to alcohol blackouts because of their inexperience and tendency to drink a lot more. Youths are more inclined to overestimate their capacity for responsible alcohol consumption as well as underestimate the effects of alcohol.

Signs Of An Alcohol Blackout

Because it’s still possible to perform regular activities, blackouts can be tough to spot. You can still talk, eat, or even continue drinking during an alcohol-induced blackout. Blackouts are more common than most people are aware of. The following are some of the most common signs of an alcohol blackout.

  • Losing track of what was spoken, discussed, or done just moments ago
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Repeatedly asking the same questions or uttering the same statements without realizing 
  • Not recognizing or comprehending one’s surroundings
  • Lack of consideration for others’ feelings 
  • Taking part in risky activities.
  • Abusing excessive amounts of alcohol in no time

What Happens To Your Body During An Alcohol Blackout?

When you’re experiencing an alcohol blackout, you may feel depressed or anxious over your drinking or activities you’ve done when you were blacked out. It gets worse when there are legal or personal issues involved. Frequent binge drinking can result in chronic or long-term consequences.

Excessive alcohol consumption is typically linked to long-term effects that coincide with blackouts. For instance, you can seriously harm your brain tissue which may lead to permanent memory impairment, nerve damage, and other problems.

How To Deal With An Alcohol Blackout

Get the person to a secure location where they can’t consume any more alcohol and can rest in case they pass out (this is the best thing to do for someone who is starting to black out). Drastic action is important if they exhibit other symptoms of severe intoxication, such as vomiting, communication difficulties, falling to the ground, clammy skin, low body temperature, sluggish heart rate, and seizures. 

Ask for help immediately if necessary. Call 911 or take them to the emergency room right away. Keep them conscious for as long as you can while you wait for assistance. To keep them hydrated, see if you can get them to take sips of water.

Moreover, lay them on their side to prevent choking if they pass out and start to vomit. Be ready to share anything you know with emergency responders without worrying that you might get them in trouble. Remember, their life matters more than their reputation. Try to recall how much alcohol they have consumed and which kind, as this may be crucial information.

How To Prevent Alcohol Blackouts

First of all, avoid heavy drinking when you’re alone. It’s risky not to have anyone around-especially one you can trust when you’re on booze. You never know how much you can handle and if you can save yourself from any accidents on your own. Also, try to be responsible and keep your limits in mind. Don’t take much more than you can, and tell your friends to do the same when you’re out together.

An alcohol blackout can be overwhelming and perplexing the day after. You will probably feel sick and have absolutely no recollection of any previous events. After a night of excessive drinking, the body requires time to recover. Start with lots of water, a filling breakfast, and painkillers if needed.

If you were with the person when they went unconscious, you could explain what happened. If not, you might need to seek help from others. Understand that sometimes it’s hard to figure out what happened. Someone who had an alcohol blackout might want to think about setting boundaries going forward. If blacking out happens often, it could be time to seek out addiction treatment support.

Are Alcohol Blackouts Out A Sign of Addiction?

Blacking out isn’t always a sign of alcohol addiction or an underlying alcohol use disorder, but it can be if it happens on the regular. Take note if you are unable to manage your drinking, falling behind in your work or school, drinking despite negative consequences, isolating yourself, or going through withdrawal symptoms.

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