Late Saturday morning, a flurry of texts go out from hundreds of phones across the US: “What happened last night?” After a night of heavy drinking, waking up with little to no memory of what happened has become so commonplace it’s regularly shown on television shows and in movies. But alcohol blackouts aren’t as innocent as they seem. The dangers of alcohol blackouts are immediate.
If you or a loved one has experienced an alcohol blackout, please reach out to the alcohol detox center in Stuart, FL to avoid future occurrences.
What Is an Alcohol Blackout?
Alcohol affects nearly every cognitive function of the brain. Balance, coordination, decision making, and memory are all affected after only one or two drinks. As the number of drinks increases, so does the impact on these functions, especially memory. Drink too much, and your brain’s ability to form memories is completely disrupted for as long as you’re impaired. This is known as an alcohol blackout.
Types of Alcohol Blackouts
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are two types of alcohol blackouts. In the milder form of a blackout (known as a fragmentary blackout), you retain some memory of what you did and happened to you while intoxicated. In most cases, a simple reminder from someone who was there with you is enough to trigger your memory of the event. However, there is another type of blackout that is far more dangerous.
In an en bloc blackout, all memory of what you did and what happened to you while you were intoxicated is completely erased. Even reminders from people who were with you aren’t enough to trigger the memory. This occurrence is one of the most apparent dangers of alcohol blackouts. You may have entire conversations, or engage in risky behaviors such as driving or unprotected sex, without retaining any memory of your actions. You may even become violent without later knowing how your knuckles got so bruised.
Alcohol and Memory Lapses
Many people only drink during social events, believing this to be a safer pattern of consumption. Many people believe that only long-time alcoholics who drink excessively on a regular basis are prone to blackouts. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is dangerously incorrect. According to the NIAAA, social drinkers experience blackouts far more often than previously assumed. In fact, 51% of college undergraduates report that they have blacked out at some point in their lives.
Binge Drinking and Alcohol Blackouts
Although most people who experience the dangers of alcohol blackouts consider themselves to be “social drinkers”, the fact that their memory has become significantly impaired indicates that they are drinking far more than they should. This type of consumption is often referred to as binge drinking. In general, it refers to an episode during which an adult male consumes five or more drinks in a two-hour period (four or more drinks for women).
In addition to memory loss, this type of alcohol consumption is associated with a number of other risks, such as:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Sexual dysfunction
- High blood pressure and stroke
- Liver disease
- Unintended pregnancy
- Unintended injuries (falls, burns, car crashes)
- Intended injuries (domestic violence, sexual assault)
- Diabetic complications
Consider residential or intensive outpatient programs in Florida to put a stop to the dangers of alcohol blackouts.
The Dangers of Repeated Alcohol Blackouts
Repeated alcohol blackouts can cause long-lasting damage to the hippocampus (the region of the brain responsible for memory formation). However, few areas of the brain operate in isolation. In addition to affecting the hippocampus, alcohol can also impair the functions of several other areas of the brain. Repeated over time, these seemingly minor incidents can lead to serious neurological damage.
For example, in people who regularly experience blackouts, whether from social drinking or long-term alcoholism, the body can become deficient in thiamine. Thiamine is an important vitamin, also known as Vitamin B1. A thiamine deficiency can cause symptoms such as problems with muscle coordination and vision, and mental confusion. In some cases, permanent memory and learning deficiencies can develop.
Repeat alcohol blackouts are also an indicator of a growing emotional dependence on alcohol. If you regularly feel the need to “smooth the way” with a few drinks in order to handle social situations, it indicates a problem. This is one of the earliest signs of alcoholism and is a clear sign that it’s time to seek help.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
If you regularly experience blackouts after a night of drinking, it’s important that you seek help, even if you are later able to remember things that happened to you during the blackout. These episodes can rapidly escalate to full-blown alcoholism. “Drinking to forget” isn’t innocent, and it isn’t a safe coping mechanism. This can lead to serious health problems down the road. It’s important to seek help and enter a detox program as soon as possible.
Treatment programs at the alcohol detox center include:
- Residential treatment program in Stuart
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP) in FL
- Continuing care program in South Florida
We Can Help
At Wellness Counseling and Residential Detox, we understand the progression of alcohol abuse from seemingly-innocent social drinking to a major problem. We understand the use of different approaches for those who experience occasional blackouts than for those who face long-term alcoholism. Call 772.773.1336 to speak confidentially to one of our admissions coordinators. We can help you find a program that will suit your specific needs and budget. In many cases, rehab starts the day you contact us.