A common symptom of alcoholism or alcohol abuse is blackout drinking. What exactly is a blackout? Blackouts occur when there is a memory lapse while consuming large doses of alcohol. Heavy drinkers or even the occasional binge drinker may experience blackouts. When a person experiences a black out, they are awake and conscious but can not recall what they said or experienced while they were drunk.
When people drink an excess of alcohol, it’s not unusual for them to have forgotten what they have said to their friends or others. In some cases, they can say some very unpleasant things to their loved ones, which they later may deeply regret.
Blackouts occur when the alcoholic becomes intoxicated. As alcohol is digested in their bodies, their livers produce a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Normally, acetaldehyde is converted to acetic acid which is expelled through the body through the respiratory system and through urination. For the alcoholic, however, the process in which acetaldehyde converts to acetic is considerably slower than the a normal drinker. Alcohol and acetaldehyde acid ultimately enters the blood stream and affects the brain. Memory loss or blackouts are a result of alcohol inhibiting proper brain functioning. It is not uncommon for drinkers to experience memory loss while they are under the influence of alcohol. However, heavy drinkers can experience blackouts that can last anywhere from an hour to even days.
People who experience blackouts are considered to be symptomatic of alcoholism. In fact, many addiction specialists consider blackout drinking to be a serious sign of alcoholism. It’s important to note, however, that blackouts are not experienced by all alcoholics. In many cases, a blackout drinker may not even remember the fact that they experienced a memory loss until someone else tells them what has happened while they were intoxicated.
It’s also important to note that blackouts are not the same thing as passing out. When a person passes out, he or she experiences a total loss of consciousness. Primarily this happens because of an excess of alcohol in the body. An overabundance of alcohol will completely shut the brain down. Passing out can even prove fatal, particularly if excessive drugs were used while intoxicated.
Alcohol can cause severe health issues and it’s important to see a health care professional if you suspect that you or someone else may be alcoholic. Alcohol withdrawal can cause serious health complications and usually requires supervision by a medical specialist.
About the Author
Carolyn N. is the webmaster for Signsofalcoholism.org. For more on signs of alcoholism [http://signsofalcoholism.org] and how to help an alcoholic [http://signsofalcoholism.org], please visit her website.
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