Alcohol blackouts most typically occur when somebody has been drinking to excess over a relatively short period of time.
Alcohol abuse is defined as drinking more than moderate drinking guidelines, so if you have an alcoholic blackout you are obviously abusing alcohol.
However, there is a big difference between abusing alcohol and being an alcoholic. (Read drinking problems to discover the difference between the two)
Yes, blackouts may seem to pale into insignificance when compared with some of the health problems caused by alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
However, this does not mean alcohol induced blackouts do not warrant concern.
A number of surveys have been conducted on college students who had experienced alcohol-induced blackouts.
This research revealed that the students had participated in various high-risk activities like engaging in unprotected sex, drunk-driving, committing vandalism and other irresponsible and dangerous activities.
In another instance, a lawyer used a blackout as a defense for his client. The man had beaten his wife to death.
The court was told that the man was in an alcoholic blackout and did not know what he was doing at the time.
Alcoholic-blackouts can occur at any time during or after a drinking binge.
You could be driving, walking, working or engaging in activities that require concentration.
The potential consequences of a blackout are frightening.
People who experience blackouts suffer an impaired ability to decide and judge, or possesses minimal or no control at all over their impulses.
The occurrence of an alcohol induced blackout can be unpredictable both in severity and in timing.
They can last for a few minutes or for much longer. There are stories of people having blackouts for up to a week and getting up to all kinds of behavior.
To those meeting them all may seem normal and yet, the person undergoing the blackout remembers nothing.
According to medical researchers, when an individual experiences an alcohol induced blackout, his consciousness remains throughout the period, but he does not have complete recollection of what happened during that time.
What transpired was not captured by the brain for recall. It is like amnesia which is induced by alcohol abuse.
The first are known as fragmentary or partial blackouts:
The other are complete or en bloc, blackouts:
You do not have to be an alcoholic to suffer blackouts.
Most blackouts are caused by the rapid ingestion of a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time.
For example, someone who downs several shots of alcohol in rapid succession within an hour has a higher chance of experiencing a blackout than someone who drinks the same amount over a longer period of time.
Abstinence from alcohol is the only certain way to avoid alcoholic blackouts.
However, it is highly unlikely you will suffer an alcoholic blackout, if you drink within safe limits.
For those who want to drink alcohol, the best way to lower the risks of blackouts is to drink slowly over a period of time.
Allow your body to process the alcohol and avoid binge drinking. It is wise to ensure there is a sober friend nearby if you plan to drink heavily.
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)
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