Being blackout drunk is considered normal for several reasons. Lots of comedy movies feature main characters blacking out and having fun. Some examples include multi-million dollar hits like Superbad and The Hangover.
College culture and binge drinking often go hand in hand, too. If blacking out is a regular occurrence among peers, it may seem harmless. Between frat parties and off-campus get-togethers, it seems that heavy drinking is pretty normal.
The truth is that blackout drinking isn’t about funny moments or bonding with friends. Blackouts can be a sign of trouble. This makes it important to know all of the facts. Read on to learn about this common drinking behavior and what it can lead to.
What Is An Alcohol Blackout?
A PubMed article says a blackout is a type of amnesia that happens when you’re drunk but conscious. It’s common for people to walk, talk, and act normally while blacked out. It’s also impossible to form new memories during a blackout.
Partial blackouts cause people to forget bits and pieces of time. En bloc blackouts cause total amnesia. This usually means they forget significant events and large amounts of time. So if you’ve had any memory loss while drinking, you’ve experienced an alcohol blackout.
Blacking out may still seem fine even though you know the definition. A lost memory here or there doesn’t sound like a big deal. And if you don’t pass out, blacking out while conscious may not sound so bad. Sadly, the truth about blackouts shows how dangerous they are. Below you’ll learn this type of drinking can harm you.
What Causes Blackouts When Drinking?
Blackouts happen when you drink too much alcohol. Drinking quickly or drinking large amounts of alcohol raises your blood alcohol level (BAC). Blackouts usually start when your BAC reaches 0.15 or higher. A BAC level of 0.15 is considered very high; a BAC level of 0.08 means you’re legally drunk. If your BAC reaches 0.15, you may experience:
- motor impairment
- loss of physical control
- blurry vision
- loss of balance
- increased anxiety
- decreased happiness and excitement
- severely impaired judgment and perception
In addition to drinking too much, other factors can increase your chances of blacking out. One common factor is drinking on an empty stomach. Your height, weight, and metabolism can also affect your blackout risk.
There are a few tips you can try to prevent blacking out. You can read those in this post and learn how to practice safer drinking. But first, we’ll discuss the risks of drunk actions during blackouts.
Drunk Actions During Blackouts
Memory loss and medical symptoms aren’t the only repercussions of blacking out. Drunk actions that happen when you’re blacked out can be severe. You might do illegal things that you would never do while sober. For example, some people drunk drive or use illicit drugs while blacked out. Blacking out puts you and everyone around you in danger.
Amnesia, anxiety, and decreased happiness can be dangerous during a blackout. You may end up feeling agitated or upset. Being an angry drunk can lead to verbal arguments and violence. The end result may be physical injuries, damaged relationships, broken objects, and more. Angry behavior and alcohol blackouts can lead to hospitalization or arrest.
Drunk Blackouts and Alcohol Poisoning
You now know two important facts. First, you can blackout when your BAC reaches 0.15. Second, your drunk actions can be very dangerous. When you are blacked out, you might continue drinking alcohol without remembering it. You may also resist if people ask or tell you to stop drinking. This can result in alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol poisoning can happen when your BAC reaches 0.16 or higher. That means there is a very fine line between blackout levels and fatal levels of drinking. Alcohol poisoning requires medical intervention. Passing out with alcohol poisoning is the most dangerous outcome. Below are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- slow or irregular breathing
- pale or slightly blue skin
- decreased body temperature
- passing out from alcohol
If you or someone you’re drinking with experiences these signs, take action. Call 911 and give them as much information as possible. It’s also important not to leave someone with alcohol poisoning alone. Keeping them conscious is important.
Unfortunately, blacking out may cause you to wander off alone. And you may not be able to call 911 and keep yourself awake. You may also be less accepting of help and assistance from people around you. This is all a risky combination that you don’t want to face.
Overall, there is a direct link between blackout drinking and alcohol poisoning. This means it is important to stop blacking out when drinking. There is no foolproof solution besides staying sober. But you can take some basic steps to drink safely.
How To Stop Blacking Out When Drinking
There are a few things you can do to stop blackout drinking. These tips are pretty simple. Keep them in mind when you drink alcohol. They can prevent a lot of risks, problems, and danger.
- Eat a meal before you drink. Food in your stomach can help absorb alcohol. This prevents it from getting into your bloodstream quickly. Your chance of a high blood alcohol level is reduced.
- Drink water before you drink alcohol. If you drink alcohol while you’re thirsty, two things can happen. You’ll likely drink faster and drink more. This can lead to a blackout. Make sure you’re hydrated beforehand.
- Pace yourself when you drink alcohol. There’s no need to rush and have multiple drinks per hour. When you drink too fast, the chance of blacking out is high.
- Try to avoid drinking when you’re tired. Being tired can impact mental clarity, and alcohol can do the same thing. You may also be more likely to pass out or blackout if you are not well rested.
- Be very cautious if you take medication. Over the counter and prescription medications can be dangerous when combined with alcohol. Always check the label to see if there is a warning about alcohol. Follow the label’s directions to avoid blackouts and other dangerous health risks.
These instructions are easy enough to follow every time you drink. There is no 100% guarantee that you won’t blackout. But taking precautions can reduce your chances. You now know the dangers of getting blackout drunk. Why take the risk when you can prevent it?
Do Blackouts Equal A Drinking Problem?
Blacking out while drinking is a sign of alcohol abuse. If you regularly have drunk blackouts, it’s possible you have a drinking problem. Alcohol abuse and addiction can occur quickly. Overcoming these issues alone is very difficult and sometimes impossible.
The good news is that there are some great resources available. Learning the signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is an important first step. This can help you realize if you or someone you know has a drinking problem. Below you’ll find the symptoms of both of these alcohol-related issues.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse means that you commonly misuse alcohol. This behavior can lead to alcoholism. Knowing the symptoms of alcohol abuse can help you see if you have a problem with drinking. Some symptoms are:
- unusual or violent behavior when drunk
- drinking too much alcohol at once
- vomiting and nausea from drinking too much
- impaired judgment when drinking
And again, blacking out is a common symptom of alcohol abuse. Do you blackout and experience these other symptoms? If you do, it’s something you should take seriously. Alcohol abuse can quickly turn into alcoholism. When this happens, you may face serious consequences while putting your life at risk.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is another word for alcohol addiction. This disorder usually starts out as alcohol abuse. Addicts may experience the symptoms of alcohol abuse and the symptoms of alcoholism. Some symptoms of alcoholism are:
- being unable to control when you drink, how much you drink, and how often you drink
- building up an alcohol tolerance
- losing interest in hobbies and personal relationships
- experiencing alcohol withdrawal when you don’t drink
- drinking even though it’s damaging your health, relationships, and daily life
- drinking alcohol by yourself
These long-term effects of heavy drinking are serious. That’s why it’s important to understand the dangers of blackout drinking. It may seem common or harmless, and it’s often portrayed that way. Below we’ll cover some of the long-term consequences of heavy drinking. If you regularly get blackout drunk, you may be at risk for these problems.
Long-Term Effects Of Heavy Drinking
We’ve covered some of the short-term effects of blackout drinking and heavy drinking. It’s also important to know the long-term effects. This may help you see how blackout drink can evolve into something bigger. Here are some long-term effects to consider:
- disrupted brain development
- liver damage and liver disease
- stomach damage
- intestinal damage such as ulcers
- low iron levels and anemia
- low vitamin B levels
- reduced sperm count in males
- fetal alcohol syndrome (infant disease caused by mother’s alcohol abuse)
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- throat and mouth cancer
- increased risk of injuries
- nerve damage
- sexual dysfunction
This list covers many major long-term effects, but there are more. Your own health history can contribute to the symptoms you might experience. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to have these problems. Binge drinking and alcohol abuse may lead to these issues, too.
Treating Blackout Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, and Alcoholism
Despite all of this information, it’s possible to treat any kind of drinking problem. If you feel overwhelmed about blacking out, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, that’s perfectly normal. There are a lot of effective treatment options for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Some examples include:
- rehab for alcohol abuse and addiction
- detox for alcohol abuse and addiction
- treatment for co-occurring disorders (This means treating alcohol-related problems along with other substance abuse or mental health problems.)
- anonymous support groups
- outpatient treatment after completing alcohol rehab.
Consider taking an alcoholism addiction quiz to help determine if you have a problem. From that point, you can assess your options for treatment if you need it. There are many resources you can use to beat alcohol abuse or alcoholism.