Have you ever awoken after a night of drinking and were clueless about what happened or what you did? Or have you ever been drinking and found yourself in a strange location but had no clue as to how you got there? If any of these episodes of amnesia sounds familiar, then you have experienced an alcohol-induced blackout. What are the causes of alcoholism.
Different Types of Blackouts
Blackouts occur when alcohol prevents neurotransmitters from imprinting memories from short-term memory to long-term memory. According to a report in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are two different types of blackouts (memory loss) induced by alcohol. The first is a partial blackout and it usually occurs after you consume a small amount of alcohol. Forgetting what topic you are talking about in the middle of a conversation is a common occurrence. With a partial blackout, you may forget information that you know, like your address or phone number, or the names of people whom you know well. When someone offers a missing piece of information, your mind is able to recall what happened during a partial blackout.
The second type is called a complete alcohol blackout. You may physically be able to function and perform mental tasks but you aren’t your normal self. Your ability to make decisions and judge your actions is impaired during a blackout. Since you have little or no control over your emotions and impulses during this interval of time, your behavior can be wildly unpredictable. Blackouts may last for a few minutes or up to a week after drinking. During this episode, you are unable to retain any memory. When others try to fill in the blanks, you are completely unable to recall any information.
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What Causes Alcohol Blackouts?
Alcohol begins to impair your memory after you consume as little as one to two drinks. Blackouts are caused by heavy drinking on an empty stomach, or when you engage in “chugging.” Binge drinking makes your blood alcohol levels rise too rapidly, thus producing a blackout. The blood alcohol content for blackouts begins at 0.14. Binge drinking is generally defined as taking in five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks for women. Blackouts can occur at any age and even with a small amount of alcohol.
Consequences of an Alcohol Blackout
Common Feelings After a Blackout
When you have an alcohol blackout, you may have to deal with several feelings. You may feel frustrated because you can’t recall the events that transpired no matter how hard you try. You may feel humiliated about the way you acted during this episode. You may have anxiety over saying something hurtful or embarrassing to someone close to you. If you woke up in bed with a stranger, you may feel distress at the thought of a life-threatening sexually transmitted disease. Blackouts often leave a very unsettling feeling once you realize that you weren’t in full control of your actions and anything could have happened.
The amount of alcohol that it takes to produce a blackout varies with each person. Your weight, diet, genetic predisposition and mental status are all factors that may affect your risk of having a blackout. If you are suffering from frequent blackouts, seeking help and getting treatment through a private inpatient or outpatient treatment center are options to consider. Alcohol counseling is also essential because there are devastating long-term consequences after blackout drinking.