A blackout happens when your body’s alcohol levels are too high. Alcohol will impair the ability to form new memories while heavily intoxicated. It won’t erase memories from the past. A blackout is a temporary condition that affects your memory. It’s characterized by a sense of lost time. There are two types of blackouts, partial and complete.
With a partial blackout, you may remember forgotten events with the help of visual or verbal cues. Memory loss is permanent with a complete blackout. The cause of a blackout while consuming alcohol is drinking too fast on an empty stomach. Blackouts are not the same as passing out. Passing out is when someone becomes unconscious because of consuming too much alcohol.
What Happens to the Body During an Alcohol Blackout?
Alcohol will affect decision-making, hinder impulse control, and it also lowers inhibition. The intoxication of alcohol will also impair the ability to remember events, react, speak, and walk. These activities are regulated by the reward pathway in the brain. This part of the brain can build up long term tolerance to alcohol. But when a blackout occurs the hippocampus, which is deep within the brain and responsible for forming memories, can’t develop long-term alcohol toleration.
Because most parts of the brain are tolerant of alcohol, during a blackout an intoxicated person can still function normally. While the person can still drive, eat, walk, have sex, and conversation they will not record any of the memories. It can be difficult for other people to recognize that a person is in a blackout because of this seemingly aware state.
What Produces an Alcohol-Related Blackout?
As you drink more alcohol and your blood alcohol level rises, the rate and length of memory loss will increase. The amount of memory loss varies from person to person. Memory loss occurs when the blood alcohol content threshold reaches 14 percent or higher. The factors that can affect your blood alcohol level include how quickly the alcohol is consumed, the type of alcohol consumed, gender, and weight. There is no set number of drinks that can cause a blackout.
What are the Long-Term Effects of a Blackout?
The effects of blackouts due to heavy drinking can have lasting effects on the brain. The severity of the effects can range from small momentary loss of memory to debilitating and permanent conditions. The frontal lobe of the brain is harmed by chronic alcohol consumption. The frontal lobe controls cognitive function and when damaged the formation of short-term and long-term memory is compromised.
The gag reflex and autonomic responses are delayed by alcohol. Which is the cause of suffocation when an intoxicated person vomits in their sleep? If alcohol is mixed with the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, THC, or with sedatives such as opioids or benzodiazepines like Xanax, the body is more likely to go into the blackout. Blackouts can be fatal. Drinking too much can affect the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and even cause cancer according to the National Institutes of Health.
The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing alcohol-associated cancer. (NIH)
Luckily, if you receive treatment in the nick of time, many of the adverse health effects can be reversed. Untreated alcoholism is a disease that chronic, progressive, and often fatal. Getting help before it’s too late is crucial.
Alcoholism Treatment at Garden State Treatment Center
Our outpatient and partial care treatment center are in New Jersey. Here at Garden State Treatment Center, we provide group therapy, individual addiction counseling, relapse prevention treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, 12 step addiction treatment, and many other services. We believe in treating the entire person, not just their addictions.
We personalized the treatment plan based on your individual characteristics to provide a long-lasting and meaningful recovery. We strive to help you come out of our program changed, firm, and prepared to begin a lifetime of recovery. We are ready to answer your questions when it comes to healing from substance abuse. Our admissions team is standing by for your call.