What is a blackout?
- Alcohol disrupts the brain’s ability to create long term
- Alcohol also affects the functioning of the hippocampus, which
memory, learning, emotion
What is the difference between a blackout and passing out?
referred to as alcohol-related memory loss or "alcoholic amnesia")
occur when people
have no memory of what happened while intoxicated. These periods may
last from a
few hours to several days. During a blackout, someone may appear
fine to others;
however, the next day they cannot remember parts of the night and
what they did.
The cause of blackouts is not well understood but may involve the
ability to store short term memory, deep seizures, or in some cases,
depression. Blackouts shouldn't be confused with "passing out,"
which happens when
people lose consciousness from drinking excessive amounts of
alcohol. Losing consciousness
means that the person has reached a very dangerous level of
intoxication and could
slip into a coma. If someone has passed out, seek help immediately
How can I prevent a blackout?
- Blackouts tend to occur after rapid consumption of alcohol,
especially on an empty stomach.
- It’s not how much you drink, but how fast you
- Avoid chugging or gulping alcoholic beverages.
- Eat a meal before you begin drinking.
Types of Blackouts
- True blackout:
- No details are remembered
- People tend to fall asleep before it’s over
- Conversations and behaviors are only stored
for 2 minutes or less
- Memory is intact for 2 minutes or less
- Partial blackouts (brown-out)
- More common than full blackouts
- Partial blockade of memory function
- Missing information but some memory recall
Content adapted from the UCSB Alcohol & Drug Program.