Blackouts are gaps in recall caused by impairments in memory while under the influence of alcohol. When people drink too much alcohol, their brain and body cannot process it. This happens to also prevent the hippocampus from forming new memories. A gap occurs in the brain’s record-keeping system. The person is then unable to recall what transpired. A blackout is not the same as passing out. They remain conscious but make decisions and hold conversations without any memory of it. Find out why this can be dangerous for people who experience it and how to offer them help.
When a person blacks out, they remain conscious and continue to make decisions, hold conversations, and even continue to drink. They will not remember what happened. This is dangerous, as the person could get behind the wheel and drive recklessly. They may also have unprotected or unwanted sex, which may occur because they were drugged and didn’t know it. Drugs may also be used in tandem with drinking which complicates matters even further. To understand why this happens, it helps to know the two types of blackouts:
- Partial: a fragmentary blackout means the person does not remember what happened but some cues trigger memories to return.
- Complete blackouts are serious and occur when memory is disabled. Entire chunks of time are erased like they never happened. This is called ‘time-traveling,’ because no matter what, this person will never recall those periods of time. The memories never formed and don’t exist
Research indicates a blackout is more likely when alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly, causing the BAC to rise up. The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) has to do with how much a person drinks, how much they’ve eaten, their weight, and lots of other factors. Women are more likely than men to have these types of blackouts, due to their tendency to reach peak BAC levels with each drink. This makes drinking like this dangerous for women.
If a person is regularly blacking out when they drink, they may need to seek treatment in an inpatient place that provides additional support for detox and resetting the body and brain. What happens is that a person is going to keep blacking out and may eventually lose whole chunks of time where they cannot form memories and begin to impact the rest of their brain. The body cannot process that much alcohol and it is lethal after a certain level in the body. Seeking help for addiction is key to finally getting help and entering recovery, a day-by-day process of healing.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information on sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702