blacking out from alcohol

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder, can result in a person frequently blacking out from alcohol. Learn what causes blackouts from drinking, the risks involved, and how to avoid them. 

What are Blackouts From Drinking?

Blackouts from alcohol drinks are defined as a person experiencing “gaps” in their memory from prior events. When blackouts happen from alcohol consumption, a person will have difficulty remembering either specific parts of the event or the event entirely. Blackouts are dangerous and put individuals at risk of experiencing harm either by others or themselves and affecting their health.

Since blackouts are common in individuals with alcohol addiction, they can also be associated with liver damage, specific types of cancers, heart disease, physical injuries, violent behavior, alcohol poisoning, and many others. 

Are Blackouts the Same as Passing Out?

No, blackouts are not the same as passing out. Passing out involves a person falling asleep from excessive alcohol consumption. While a person can experience a blackout and then fall asleep, this is different than a blackout itself. A blackout involves the person still being awake but unable to remember the experience. 

Symptoms of Blackouts

The symptoms of blackouts can include:

  • Being unable to remember specific events when drinking, either for short periods of time or for several hours at a time
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Muscle spasms

What are the Different Types of Blackouts?

There are two primary types of alcohol induced blackouts – fragmentary blackouts and en bloc blackouts. Both are serious and dangerous. Fragmentary blackouts occur when a person can only remember certain memories (this is often very spotty). 

En bloc blackouts are less common, but involve the person not being able to remember memories or events for several hours at a time (as opposed to not remembering specific moments).

What Causes Blackouts?

Alcohol research shows that blackouts tend to occur for a variety of reasons, which can include:

Higher Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BACs)

Blackouts are known for occurring in individuals who have a BAC of .16 percent or higher, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. When the blood alcohol content in a person’s body reaches this level or higher, cognitive abilities are significantly affected (therefore increasing the risk of a blackout). 

Higher BACs occur as a result of drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. 

Drinking Too Much Alcohol, Too Quickly

When someone consumes too much alcohol at a very fast rate, the amount of alcohol in their blood will increase quickly (therefore potentially resulting in a blackout). This can also occur if someone drinks on an empty stomach and/or practices binge drinking (drinking several alcoholic drinks in a short period of time).

Specific Medications

Drinking alcohol while on certain medications can cause blackouts. This tends to include medications for sleep or anti-anxiety. 

How To Avoid Alcohol Blackouts

There are several steps you can take to avoid alcohol blackouts and reduce your risk of alcohol induced amnesia:

  • Avoid binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • If you are drinking, eat a full meal beforehand
  • Avoid drinking while taking medications
  • Reduce your overall alcohol consumption
  • Receive professional treatment from an alcohol rehab facility

How a Rehab Facility Can Help

An alcohol rehab facility can help you physically withdraw from alcohol use (known as medical detox) and place you in a program that is the best fit for your recovery needs. These programs can include an Outpatient Program, Intensive Outpatient Program, Partial Hospitalization Program, and Aftercare Programs once your addiction treatment is complete.

The therapies in alcohol addiction programs offered at Harmony Outpatient are customized to your specific situation and provide you with the highest quality treatment possible. Our approach to treatment includes a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. 

Your Florida Treatment Center for Alcohol Addiction & Substance Abuse

Our team of compassionate professionals at Harmony Outpatient provides expert care to help you make the changes you need to pursue life-long sobriety. If you have any questions related to our alcohol addiction and substance abuse treatment programs, medical detox, finding treatment options near you, health insurance, or payment options, please feel free to contact us.