Moments Never Recovered: Alcohol-Induced Memory Blackouts
Have you ever woken up from a night of drinking and could not remember what happened the last half of the night? You aren’t the only one. In fact, over half of college graduates report having had memory blackouts induced by drinking at least once during their time in college. Although memory blackouts are not a sure sign of alcoholism, they are a characteristic commonly recognized in those addicted to alcohol. Recovering from alcoholism includes examining the effects that it has had on the body, including the effects brought on by memory blackouts.
What are Memory Blackouts?
Memory blackouts are different than passing out. Passing out involves becoming unconscious due to alcohol consumption. Memory blackouts are a time of amnesia during alcohol consumption. Usually, a person will wake up from drinking and not remember moments from the night before. There are two types of memory blackouts: fragmentary blackouts and en bloc blackouts. Fragmentary blackouts consist of fragmented memories of the night before, remembering only pieces of the night, but not the whole time. En bloc blackouts are when the part of the brain responsible for storing short-term memories stops functioning while drinking. This means that memories simply are not made for storage in the brain, so it is like they never happened.
Blood Alcohol Content and Memory Blackouts
Why do memory blackouts happen while drinking? Well, when blood alcohol content levels rise to a certain degree, alcohol starts to affect the hippocampus. This is the area in the brain that stores short-term memory. Blackouts are not an experience of forgetting memories. Rather, they are a result of the brain not being able to store memories while blood alcohol levels are high. Some people can drink without end and still not experience memory blackouts. This is because they may not be as prone as others to a high blood alcohol content, creating the loss of memory function in the brain.
Memory Lapses and Other Drugs
Studies have shown that mixing alcohol and other drugs raises the risk for blackouts. Benzos induce memory lapses all on their own, but mixing them with alcohol increases the risk. Additionally, the same goes for marijuana use. Other drugs that cause memory blackouts include:
- LSD (Acid)
Symptoms of Memory Blackouts
There are no known symptoms of blackouts, except that the person experiencing them will be showing the same symptoms of overdrinking. Slurred speech, impaired judgment, and impaired coordination may all be a warning sign that someone is experiencing a memory blackout. Many that drink may think that experiencing blackouts are a laughing matter, but, they are not. Studies show that drinking enough to raise the blood alcohol content level high enough to induce memory blackouts can lead to both short and long-term physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Most terrifying, those that experience frequent memory lapses as a result of abusing alcohol may even experience brain shrinkage.
Additionally, those that experience memory blackouts commonly from excessive drinking are more likely to participate in behaviors that could lead to other consequences. Drunk driving, unprotected sexual activity, crime, and violence are to be expected of those that have a blood alcohol content level high enough to induce memory lapse. Also, those that commonly experience memory blackouts from alcohol are at a higher risk of using other drugs and developing other addictions.
Getting help for Memory Blackouts Caused by Alcohol
There is no way to prove that blackouts lead to alcoholism. Or, that all alcoholics experience blackouts. But, if you experience blackouts and consequences ensue because of them, yet you still cannot stop drinking alcohol, the chances are high that you have an addiction to alcohol.
Fortunately, with dedication and commitment, treatment for alcoholism is successful. Not only is treatment successful in eliminating addiction from lifestyles, but it can also give your body time to heal from the imminent symptoms of memory blackouts. If you decide to go to treatment for your alcohol abuse, you will find that you will wake up with a clear head. You’ll even be sure of what you have done the night before. You will no longer have to wake up with a blistering headache. Or, have to wonder what horrible things you may have said or done the night before.
Here at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center, we understand that addiction affects each person individually. So, we come up with a specific recovery plan for each individual who walks through our doors. To learn more about the programs that may help you rid your life of addiction, please visit our website to browse our list of services. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to call. For a confidential conversation with one of our addiction specialists, please call 1-855-762-3797.