Blacking out is just one of alcohol’s many damaging effects on the brain. When an individual’s consumption of alcohol exceeds safe limits in a short period of time, they can experience temporary short term memory loss that is referred to a “blackout”.
Although it is commonly believed that a blackout means that the individual has passed out and is therefore completely inactive experts say this is not the case. In fact, scientist explain that the blackout ends when the individual passes out. Psychiatrist Dr. Linda Smith explains that “passing out” is a loss of consciousness due to excessive alcohol consumption while an individual in a “black out” state is still conscious and awake and capable of engaging in activities of which they may later have partial or no recall.
The dangers of blacking out can have the following physical and psychological consequences.
- -Impaired cognitive functions cause loss of control of actions and words.
- -Make irrational or inappropriate decisions that can have negative long term effects.
- -More prone to engage in sexual behavior that could put you at risk of unwanted pregnancy or an incurable sexually transmitted disease.
- -Attempting to operate a motor vehicle could be result in a fatal accident and vehicular homicide.
- -Vulnerable to suffering severe injury or fatality from falling accidents.
- -Alcohol poisoning if the individual continues to drink while blacking out
- -End up in unsafe environments.
According to research outcomes conducted by Donald F. Sweeney, M.D. of the American Society of Addiction Medicine the person experiencing a blackout may appear to be normal. In his book titled “The Alcohol Blackout; walking, talking unconscious & Lethal he explains that blackouts are unpredictable, can last for several hours, happen to any drinker and can occur with minimum consumption of alcohol in some cases.
Drinking on an empty stomach, fatigue or drinking too fast are the primary contributors to a black out. According to Sweeney, blackouts are the most misunderstood and neglected neurological dysfunction in the world and women face the greatest risk. Sweeney suggest using the following memory test to determine if someone that has been drinking is experiencing a black out.
- a) Ask the person to choose three words (any words), and have the person repeat them.
- b) Then, distract the person by talking about something else.
- c) In five minutes, ask the person to repeat the words.
According to this test, the individual is experiencing a blackout if they are unable to remember even one word.
Experts warn that the potential risks of experiencing multiple black out events can lead to long-term health concerns such as the development of alcohol abuse and addiction as well as early stages of brain damage.
If you or a loved one have experienced one or more blackout events, it may be time to seek help to stop the progression of this negative drinking pattern. Alcohol treatment centers help people at all stages of addiction to achieve sobriety. However, the best and most effective way to prevent addiction is to address it at the onset.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.