Excessive alcohol consumption has always been a significant point of focus for friends, family, and medical professionals worldwide. Alcoholism or alcohol abuse can take a massive toll on an individual’s life, starting with a long-term focus on heavy drinking.

One of the results of excessive drinking is experiencing a blackout. They’re fairly common for individuals who drink high amounts, but can they signify a more significant issue? Let’s take a look at blackouts and alcoholism and why it’s important to avoid drinking to levels that impact your memory.

How Does Someone “Blackout”?

You’ve probably heard someone describing an event where they were drunk by saying, “I don’t even remember what happened.” This phenomenon is called a blackout. High levels of alcohol consumption can lead to short or long-term memory gaps of events that occurred during the period in which one was intoxicated. This happens when the amount of alcohol consumed blocks memories in your hippocampus from transferring from short-term to long-term storage. 

There are two types of blackouts — complete and partial. Individuals who black out often report gaps in their memories, and the length of time those gaps last determine what kind of blackout someone is experiencing. Complete memory blackouts are impossible to recall and are forever left as a forgotten time in someone’s life. Partial blackouts are forgotten memories that can be recalled via specific triggers or piecing together moments surrounding the missing memory. 

Why Blacking Out Is Dangerous

Blacking out is dangerous, not just because of what you don’t remember. In all likelihood, your decision-making during this time will be poor. Many observing individuals are unaware that an individual is blacking out, as they’re often seen in a normal state. But this intense level of alcohol consumption can cause impaired vision, slurring, and other symptoms of alcohol abuse. In addition, if someone goes to operate a vehicle or partake in other activities, it can be impossible to know whether they’re in the right state of mind to perform these activities safely.

Additionally, drinking to the point of blacking out can cause long-term health risks. It increases the likelihood of brain degeneration and causes damage to the frontal lobe. This leads to erratic behaviors, mood swings and other personality changes, and the inability to retain consistent memories of daily activities. 

It’s important to remember that blacking out and passing out are two different things. Passing out occurs when too much alcohol consumption causes an individual to fall asleep or unconscious. In this case, the person wouldn’t wake up until the effects of alcohol aren’t as strong ad their decision-making is less impaired. While passing out isn’t a position you want to put yourself in, there is less chance of engaging in dangerous behaviors because the individual is passed out.

Do Blackouts Mean That I’m at Risk of an Alcohol-Related Problem?

So are blackouts a sign of a bigger alcohol-related issue? Do blackouts necessitate the need for a 12-step program or some other form of alcohol rehabilitation? On their own, blackouts don’t indicate much of anything. Anyone can blackout once you consider that they’re primarily caused by how much you drink in a short time. But too much alcohol consumption — leading to multiple blackouts — can be a sign that you must reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. Talk to a medical professional if blackouts have become far too commonplace in your life or the life of a family member or loved one.

Turn to Steps to Recovery if You Believe Alcoholism Might Be Affecting Your Life

Alcoholism isn’t something to mess around with. If you’re constantly drinking to a state of blacking or passing out, or if you’re dealing with complex relationships due to alcohol consumption, Steps to Recovery can help. Turn to us for rehabilitation for alcoholism and to identify proper treatment methods and routines that best suit your situation. Contact us today or call Steps to Recovery at 267.209.7312 for more information on how our team can help.