While You Were Out: What Causes Us to Black Out When Drinking?


Excessive drinking can cause people to experience blackouts and is sometimes called blackout drinking. The blackout alcohol can cause is much different than just passing out from alcohol use: For a heavy abusers of alcohol, blackout periods bring amnesia, or memory loss. In these situations, the person is still physically active but won’t have any memory of it later. They may still be able to talk, eat, argue, or have sex, which can make it difficult for an outsider to tell if someone is experiencing an alcoholic blackout. There are two main types of blackout: Fragmentary blackouts allow the individual to remember parts of what happened, while an “en bloc” leaves no memories behind at all. For someone who abuses alcohol, blackout periods of either type can be worrisome at best and potentially very dangerous.

Some drinkers might find themselves wondering, “If my friend never blacks out, then why do I? Blackout when I drink is almost inevitable.” The answer is that some people are just more prone to having blackouts than others, due to the fact that not everyone’s brain and memory are affected by alcohol exactly the same way.

Research done on the effects of alcohol on memory has shown us what leads to blackouts. The primary cause is that alcohol can stop the transfer of information from your short-term memory to long-term memory. This explains why individuals who are intoxicated may be able to remember events immediately after they have happened but not the next day. The more alcohol the person continues to consume, the worse these memory impairments will become. Consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time has been shown to put you at a higher risk of experiencing a blackout, as the sudden rush of alcohol in your system catches the memory circuits of your brain off guard and makes them shut down.

Studies on the blackout alcohol causes began in the 1940s and found that that the presence of blackouts is a strong indicator of alcoholism. But all is not lost: If you have a problem with excessive drinking leading to blackouts, we can help so that you can start leading a sober life. White Sands Treatment Center is an accredited private drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in sunny Fort Myers, Florida. We will help facilitate travel arrangements to our facility no matter where you live, and we accommodate most insurance plans in most states. We have a highly qualified staff with board-certified doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors all under one roof. White Sands Treatment Center offers highly individualized treatment programs, with patient care customized for each person’s unique challenges and needs. We offer services ranging from safe, medically supervised detox to group and individual therapies, holistic treatments, and family counseling.

If you need help, call anytime, 24/7, to speak with a counselor. We can help you break your addiction to alcohol with our customized treatment programs. Take the first step on your road to recovery: Call today.