Q:Are alcohol blackouts and the behavior during a blackout two separate things? Are you still conscious
and fully aware of your actions but not able to store them in your long-term memory? Doesn’t alcohol just
reduce your inhibitions and it does not “change” your personality (you just follow instinct and natural
impulses) or is it totally different during a blackout?
A:Alcoholic blackouts are most commonly triggered by consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period of
time. Sometimes people are conscious during the blackout but have no recall or only partial recall of their acts
during them. These so called fragmentary blackouts usually respond to reminders if someone who witnessed
the behavior brings them to mind. Full blackouts on the other hand, do not respond to reminders and the person
may have no recall whatsoever of their actions while experiencing a blackout. During a blackout, a person has
impaired judgement and a reduced ability to make good decisions. Frequently, their behavior is erratic and of
a high risk nature like driving a car, engaging in unprotected sex, shop-lifting, vandalism and fi ghting both verbal
Genetics can determine blackout susceptibility, some studies show up to 50% of drinking induced blackouts are
genetically predetermined. Environmental risks include the previously mentioned drinking on an empty stomach,
or drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Blackouts are not the same as passing out after
drinking too much because the person with the blackout is still functioning and appears to be conscious. Many
researchers believe that blackouts are associated with a high tolerance to alcohol and indicate a predisposition
to alcohol dependency or alcoholism.
The only way to avoid blackouts completely is obviously not to drink. If a person does experience them they
should interpret them as a warning to stop drinking and take responsibility and get help for this serious and
potentially dangerous response to alcohol consumption.