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How Blackouts Affect the Brain

When a blackout occurs, an individual may have consumed so much alcohol that he remains conscious while intoxicated but is unable to remember what happened during the event after the intoxication wears off. Blackouts are often caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol quickly, but the actual amounts will vary from person to person. There is no exact amount of consumption that predetermines a blackout, and the only guaranteed way to prevent one is by abstaining from alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can have many physical repercussions, but blacking out has specific consequences on the brain. A blackout occurs because alcohol is a depressant and works to slow down brain activity. This ultimately interferes with the brain’s memory function. Normal brain activity allows for three types of memory: sensory, short-term and long-term. Drinking large amounts of alcohol interrupts the process of turning sensory memory into short-term or long-term memories. As more alcohol is consumed, it may become harder to recall events that are happening.

Short-Term Psychological Effects of Blacking Out

There are many dangers and consequences of drinking enough alcohol to blackout. During a blackout, an individual’s judgment, coordination, memory and sensory perception are all greatly impaired. Decision-making is often inhibited and the user may begin to act on impulse instead of thinking through his decisions. The portion of the brain responsible for coordination is also slowed down. Individuals experiencing a blackout will also have poor balance, hand-eye coordination and reaction time. These short-term effects on the brain can lead to accidents, injury, fatalities and variety of other problems.

Long-Term Consequences of Blacking Out

The consequences of blacking out and excessive drinking can also have long-term effects. Possible consequences may include the following:

  • Unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects
  • Legal trouble, DUI violations, sexual assault and violence
  • Accidents, falls and injuries
  • Increased risk of cancer of the tongue, mouth, throat, liver and breast
  • Increased health risks such as liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, kidney failure, skin problems, infertility, heart attack, stroke, lung failure and stomach and intestinal problems
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Psychological problems such as disrupted sleep patterns, fatigue, mood swings, depression, anxiety and increased risk of suicide
  • Alcohol poisoning or overdose
  • Alcohol dependency or addiction

Do People Who Black Out Need Alcohol Abuse Treatment?

Simply because a person is not dependent on or addicted to alcohol, it does not mean that his abusive behavior is acceptable. Excessive drinking to the point of blacking out is dangerous to the individual and to others. Individuals who have had repeated blackouts should seek help for their alcohol abuse problem before they make a regrettable mistake or develop an addiction. Treatment help is available for those with alcohol abuse problems as well individuals struggling with addiction.

Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse Problems

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to assist you with finding alcohol addiction treatment and recovery services that fit your exact recovery needs. Whether you have questions, need information or are ready to find a treatment or recovery program now, we can help. Please call now.