Alcohol blackout requires a specific set of circumstances in order to occur. Three factors that may contribute to alcohol blackout include:
1. You Drink Too Much Too Fast
When you take in alcohol rapidly, your liver cannot keep up. This causes blood alcohol levels to rise until you reach the point of alcohol blackout.
2. You Have An Empty Stomach
If you drink on an empty stomach, it won’t take as much alcohol to raise your blood alcohol level to a dangerous point as it would if you had been eating. Drinking alcohol without food gets you intoxicated much faster, raising your risk of blackout.
3. You Have A Low Tolerance
Although most people won’t blackout until they reach a blood alcohol level of 0.14, some people may blackout sooner. If you are more sensitive to alcohol than the average person, it may not take as much to cause you to reach alcohol blackout.
If this experience scared you or made you feel out of control, you’re not alone. This article will explore the cause of alcohol blackout, as well as its symptoms and consequences.
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What Is Alcohol Blackout?
When someone discusses “alcohol blackout,” they’re generally referring to the memory loss that occurs after drinking too much alcohol at one time. As blood alcohol levels rise, the potential for alcohol blackout increases. This is sometimes called “alcohol-induced amnesia.”
When you’re suffering from alcohol blackout, you won’t be able to form new memories, even though you’re still awake and interacting with your environment.
Alcohol blackouts don’t typically affect any of the memories you stored before the blackout occurred. Instead, you will remember everything clearly up to a certain point, at which your memories become fuzzy and eventually disappear altogether.
What Causes Alcohol Blackout?
When you are sober, you form memories by receiving sensory input, processing it, and storing it in your short-term memory. Next, the experience is transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory by a specific process.
To remember an event, your brain will access long-term memory, move the memory into short-term memory, and allow you to re-experience what happened. When you drink alcohol, however, this process is impaired.
Alcohol blackout is the result of a rapid rise in blood alcohol levels. When levels reach a certain point, your brain uses the ability to form and/or retrieve memories. For most people, a blood alcohol level of at least 0.14 percent will be required before alcohol blackout will occur.
However, the specific effects of blood alcohol levels on memory may differ from one person to the next.
Symptoms Of Blackouts
Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol blackout include:
- memory loss
- trouble walking or standing
- vision impairment
- impairment of judgment
Keep in mind that blacking out and passing out is not the same thing. During alcohol blackout, you’re still able to talk, make decisions, and continue drinking.
Because you aren’t in full control of your body, you are much more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drunk driving or unprotected sex. When you’re passed out, however, you will be unconscious and won’t respond to stimuli, including touch and sound.
If you’re experiencing alcohol blackout on a regular basis, you may have a drinking problem. Fortunately, effective treatment is available. If you think you may be suffering from an addiction to alcohol, seek treatment as soon as possible.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain