Blackouts

A Blackout is a state of temporary amnesia which occurs during or following the consumption of alcohol (beer, wine, or hard liquor). A person experiencing a blackout is awake and functioning during the time they are having a blackout, but is unable to partially or fully recall events later, when sober. A blackout can be a frightening and unsettling experience.

Blackouts are related to the quantity of alcohol consumed and can be a sign of problem drinking.

"Passing Out" is losing consciousness while drinking. You fall into a stuporous or comatose state. (This is life threatening.)

"Blacking Out" is an inability to remember a part or all of a drinking episode. During a blackout you are awake and functioning, but later you can't remember what you did.

"Graying Out" can also occur when drinking. Events can be recalled, usually with difficulty, but things are not very clear.

Blackouts are the inibility to transfer short-term memory into long-tem memory. They are not the psychological repression of traumatic, "forgotten" incidents. Drinkers who have sustained a blackout are likely to have subsequent ones.Gulping drinks, fatigue, and not eating may lead to a blackout, due to a rapid rise in blood alcohol concentration. Blackouts aid denial because a blackout drinker can easily dismiss others' reports of her blackout behaviors. Blackouts are not a defense against the accusation of a criminal act. A person is responsible for their behavior when under the influence. Being in a blackout increases the likelihood for other high risk behaviors, such as unwanted sexual experiences, drinking and driving, alcohol poisoning, etc.

Not everyone who has a blackout is an alcoholic, but any person who experiences blackouts and continues to drink is manifesting a symptom of problem drinking.

If you have a blackout, you may want to contact the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project and have a conversation about your concerns.