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Blacked Out: A Story You Won’t Remember

To put it simply, a blackout is basically lost time or memory lapses due to alcohol or drug consumption in large amounts. During a blackout, your brain will not be able to form memories because your body has been exposed to high amounts of alcohol. The part of the brain that creates memories becomes so impaired that it can no longer function. When this happens, you are “blacked out” and typically won’t remember anything from that point on.

rehab center blacked out

I woke up around 2:45 in the afternoon. My clothes were gone, and my nose throbbed as if someone had punched me with a good left hook. I ran to the bathroom and one of the girls at the house found and brought me my clothes. I wondered to myself, “Why am I naked, why is my nose throbbing, and why can’t I remember anything?”

So I asked the other girl in the house what happened and she told me my nose probably hurt because I smashed my face into the toilet when I was vomiting. She said I was so drunk I couldn’t even hold my head up, and the weight of it cracked down onto the edge of the toilet. It hurt, but I didn’t think it was broken, so I ignored it.

I then asked her my next pressing question. She told me in the night, the others at the house heard me yelling and came to check on me. She said the guy who brought me to this house party had undressed me, but I had gotten up and ran around the house yelling that I didn’t want him touching me.

I was horrified. I was disgusted with myself and what happened, and how someone could try to take advantage of someone else like that. They say what you don’t know can’t hurt you, but in the case of blackouts, my experience shows it most definitely can.

Rehad Center Blackedout 2


What Is A Blackout?

To put it simply, a blackout is basically lost time or memory lapses due to alcohol or drug consumption in large amounts. During a blackout, your brain will not be able to form memories because your body has been exposed to high amounts of alcohol. The part of the brain that creates memories becomes so impaired that it can no longer function. When this happens, you are “blacked out” and typically won’t remember anything from that point on.

It’s also important to note that a blackout is not when a person passes out or becomes unconscious. People who are blacked out still have the ability to function. They will be able to talk, eat, or exhibit behaviors that are seemingly coherent. This can make it very difficult to tell if someone else is experiencing a blackout.

There are two types of blackouts: fragmentary and en bloc. En bloc blackouts are when you wake up after drinking with no recollection of anything that happened after a certain point in time. The term “en bloc” means “as a whole.” Knowing this makes it easier to understand that en bloc blackouts are where the memory as a whole was affected. Fragmentary blackouts are when you’re able to remember small bits and pieces.

Because alcohol impairs people’s self-restraint, impulse control, and decision-making processes, people are much more likely to get hurt or do things they normally wouldn’t when blacked out, which can result in very dangerous outcomes.

Why Do Blackouts Happen?


As mentioned earlier, alcohol and drug consumption in large amounts can affect your brain. Many parts of the brain are able to handle alcohol consumption, but the part of the brain that creates memories can’t. This then results in that part of the brain being inoperable and leaving you unable to remember most or all of the events that happened during the blackout.

rehab center blacked out

Who Gets Blackouts?

Anyone can have a blackout, but there are some who are much more prone to blacking out than others. Some people may never experience a blackout, while others may experience them often. Your gender, body weight, and family history all have a part in your predisposition to blacking out.

Many times, people who experience problem drinking are more susceptible to blackouts. Studies show that up to 66% of college students have experienced a blackout at least once. Young adults experience blackouts more often due to their binge drinking habits. Binge drinking is when you consume large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. When you drink too much too quickly, your body is unable to process the alcohol as quickly as you’re putting it in.

When your body is unable to keep up, this results in a higher blood alcohol content (BAC) level. A BAC level is a fancy term for how much alcohol is in your bloodstream.

How To Prevent Blackouts

Prevention is always the best solution. If you want to enjoy your party but don’t want to black out, there are some steps you can take to lower your chances of blacking out.

  1. Eating a meal before you consume alcohol can help your body to absorb alcohol more slowly.
  2. Try pacing yourself while you drink. Many times blackouts are caused by people drinking too much too quickly.
  3. Drink water. If you drink at least one glass of water between alcoholic drinks, it can ensure that you aren’t drinking too fast, and it also allows you to gauge how the alcohol you have consumed is affecting you. This will then give you a better idea of when you have reached your limit and should stop drinking.

How Do You Recognize A Blackout?

As we said earlier, blackouts can be pretty difficult to recognize in another person due to the intoxicated person’s ability to still function.

Repetition of ideas, stories, or opinions is a pretty common indicator that someone is experiencing a blackout. There is no guarantee that you will be able to correctly identify if your friend or loved one is blacked out. You can watch them and their behaviors closely. If they seem to go too far when drinking you can step in and maybe suggest they slow down or take them home.

It is important to note that it can be extremely difficult to be able to correctly identify if someone is blacked out. You may think someone might be blacked out but there is no test or method to guarantee if that is actually true.


If you suspect that someone is blacked out, it’s really important that you don’t leave them on their own. In a blacked-out state, they’re very vulnerable and may make riskier choices than they usually would. To ensure their safety and that of others, it would probably be best if they were taken home to sleep.

If you decide to take them home, you should stay with them to make sure they don’t hurt themselves accidentally. If your friend or loved one happens to become unresponsive or exhibit any other concerning behaviors, you should call emergency services immediately to ensure they get the medical treatment they need.

Alcohol Poisoning

At times, blackouts can be a precursor to a much more serious condition, alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is a toxin, so it can negatively affect the body when taken in large amounts. Alcohol poisoning happens when your body can’t process the alcohol at the rate it is drunk. When your BAC levels reach a certain point, you’ll start to exhibit signs of alcohol overdose.

If you’re experiencing alcohol poisoning but don’t seek medical care, there is a possibility that you could have seizures, blood sugar crashes, slip into a coma, or even go into cardiac arrest from hypothermia. Some symptoms of alcohol poisoning include slow and irregular breathing, vomiting, confused mental state, slowed or stopped heart rate, stupor, unconsciousness, seizures, or even comas.

It’s important to make sure to seek proper medical care if you believe alcohol poisoning could occur or may be occurring.

alcoholism treatment rehab

If you or your loved one is blacking out often, it could point to an alcohol use disorder. If you need help breaking those habits, the first step is to reach out for help, and we can connect you with an alcohol treatment program. It can be hard, but your health is more important than anything.

Rehab Center understands your pain, and we’re here for you. Contact us here, or call us today at (888) 341-4325 and we will help you on the road to recovery.


What happens during a blackout?

During an alcohol-induced blackout, you will be awake, and your body will function normally aside from your memory retention. You will likely not remember any of the events that happened during the time period of the blackout.

It is possible to experience fragmented blackouts, which means you’ll remember bits and pieces but not everything that happened.

What causes people to black out?

Blackouts are caused by excessive alcohol or drug consumption. When your blood alcohol content level gets to a certain point, your brain is no longer able to retain memories in long-term memory, and so you will likely not remember them. Younger people tend to experience blackouts more often due to binge drinking.

Can you black out and still be awake?

Yes, you can black out and still be awake. Alcohol-induced blackouts typically occur when the person affected is still awake and functioning. It can be difficult to know when someone else is blacked out because of this.

Does blacking out damage your brain?

In itself, blacking out once or twice does not damage the brain. When you black out often or have an alcohol use disorder, you’re likely to have changes in your brain that can result in long-term damage to your health.

Blackouts can also indirectly cause health problems. These health problems could stem from things such as falls or other problematic behaviors from overdrinking.

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