Alcohol Blackout

What is an alcohol blackout? This is not the same thing as passing out when you have had too much to drink. Passing out very much resembles sleeping. No, an alcoholic blackout is when a person has had a lot to drink and they go into this state of mind where they can no longer remember anything that they are doing, but they are still moving around, conversing with people, and possibly causing all sorts of problems.

Normally the human brain has the ability to keep recording whatever is happening in your life....whether you are hearing things, seeing things, tasting all goes on the record. You might not remember every little detail but your brain actually has it all locked in there. Technically, you could bring these hidden memories out with hypnosis if you had to.

What an alcohol blackout actually does

With a blackout this is not the case. Nothing is going on permanent record. The brain stops recording new information, so everything that occurs is lost forever to the alcoholic who is in a blackout. They can only recollect the experience as it is told to them by other people. This usually happens the next day when they find themselves waking up in a strange place, wondering how they got there, and what exactly they did the night before. It is at this point that they will generally call up their friends who they were with the night before and start asking questions. Their friends usually say something along the lines of: "Do you realize what you did last night?!" At this point the alcoholic usually does not want to know, because horrible and embarrassing things generally happen during these types of episodes.

If you are at the point of experiencing these sorts of things, then you might want to step back and take a good hard look at your drinking. Normal people do not black out from drinking, ever. This is because a normal person will pass out long before they black out. If you are blacking out from drinking too much alcohol then it means that your tolerance to alcohol is all messed up. Technically you should pass out and appear to be sleeping long before you get to the point of blacking out. If you are blacking out on a regular basis then it means your drinking has gotten way out of hand, and you need to do something about it. If this is the case then you might want to consider treatment or rehab of some sort.

Most of these folks are in a blackout....

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Comments 68 comments

Amy M profile image

Amy M 7 years ago from Manzano Mountains

Great information!

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dogfishcat 7 years ago

That's great info ive had blackouts too.

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wordscribe41 7 years ago

Great information.  I actually blacked out the first time I drank.  My parents decided to give me wine when I was 7 years old.  That should have been a huge red flag, my body metabolized alcohol differently from others.  An alcoholic right out of the starting gate, for sure.  Anyway, fantastic hub.  Lots of people don't understand what a blackout is or its significance.  Thanks for sharing, from one recovering alcoholic to another.

Patrick 7 years ago

Hi there Wordscribe

Thanks for the support on this....glad to know there are others in recovery here on hubpages that can support each other! Good luck to you on your journey...

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markhouston 7 years ago from Houston, TX

Great job describing what an alcoholic blackout is. I think that too often, younger people don't take this sort of thing seriously enough if at all.

Kandi A profile image

Kandi A 7 years ago

Great information...Wished I would of came across information like this earlier. I remember being taken to Detox center and them asking me if I had ever had a blackout before, my answer to them was well yes everyone who drinks blacksout!!! I was sober atleast 3 months before I really understood the difference.

Thanks for the hub,

Kandi 7 months sober...

Emily 7 years ago

You may want to check some of the information you're writing on here. People who have experienced blacking out are still normal people and non alcoholics can still have black outs without having a problem.

Patrick 7 years ago

That is a good point, Emily....normal people can still blackout, even if they are not alcoholic. But it is quite rare because a person with a normal tolerance to alcohol will generally pass out long before they get to the blackout stage.

Generally speaking, a blackout is still a pretty big warning flag. Could be a false alarm, but generally it is a strong indicator. Good point though, thanks for mentioning that....

7 years ago

Blackouts are not caused by the amount of alcohol you have consumed, but rather by the rapid increase in B.A.C.

Raoul 7 years ago

Long a heavy beer drinker, sometime in the eighties I developed a preference for rye whiskey. Initially, I had a high tolerance and could slam rye and cokes like a demon and still be on top of my game. After a while this started to change and my behavior when drunk took a big swing for the worse. I would get nasty ( Not physically - just mouthy ), saying things to people that one shouldn't say and became very reckless in my behavior. Worse yet was when the blackouts started. In my case, I would recall bits and pieces of the night but periods of time would be total blanks. Some of the parts I did recall had a dreamlike quality so I was often unsure if some of them actually happened or were dreams. Sometimes these recollections would also seem to conflict with each other.

After getting very rude with someone I cared a lot about, then carrying on to other bar(s?) downtown where I was doing who knows what (My only strong recollection being part of a cab ride home) I vowed to never drink hard liquor

again. I slipped up once, luckily with no shameful side-effects - Guess I passed out before I could get too stupid and only drink light beer now and at a much slower rate than before. Where I used to drink 15 or more beer in a sitting, it's usually 6 or 7 now. I also drink far less often than before. I don't act up and recall everything the next day. No more cringing when the phone rings. I also don't miss the hangovers.

At the first sign of things slipping again I will take the next step and quit alcohol altogether. I have no urge to return to that nightmare. Take some advise from one who's been there - If you have even one blackout change your drinking behavior right away. I wish I had. Would have saved me a lot of grief. Besides, you'll be surprised how much better things get.

betty 6 years ago

Blackouts can be caused by the total amount you drink, but they can also be caused by how quickly your blood alcohol level rises. If your metabolic rate is elevated for some reason eg. by stress, or being in a social overwhelming situation, this can make you especially vulnerable. The main way to avoid the problem is to SLOW DOWN your drinking. Of course this will have an impact on how much you drink overall too, but the main thing is that blood alcohol levels will rise much more slowly.

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nikki1 6 years ago

Nicely done. Great hub.

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jasper420 6 years ago

ia, a recovering alcoholic i thought i knew everything about acholisim i was wrong i didn't know blackouts could be so damaging

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the clean life 6 years ago from New Jersey Shore

Hey Recovery Guy

Great Hub! Boy I can remember a couple of times I blacked out and woke up wondering "how did I get home and where is my car"? Great job

Glad those days are far gone.

WONDERING 6 years ago

I left the hotel and have no memory of packing the car. The last thing i remember is pulling out of the hotel parking lot. Then I 'woke up' 4 hours later, I'm lost and have no idea where I am and can't find my way to the freeway. I can't text, I'm so lost. Then an hour or so later I find myself on the major highway racing a semi down the interstate. Only by the grace of God did I make it home alive without hurting myself or anyone. This has never happened to me before and I've drank more than I did this time.

Sad 6 years ago

I waked up with my knee hurts, I don't know how it happened I couldn't remember some pieces of last saturday party night, hours after I took my mobile phone and discovered me in some photos partyng over there, just talking with people and playing with the urban mobiliary (with not risk in this case for me or anyone). Started to remember some night photograms and joining pieces.

Is the fifth time in 3 months. This is a Blackout.

You don't have to be shame. That's not useful. You have to face it, and take wise measures or find any kind of help if you can't do it alone.

Korsakoff's syndrome is not a joke and it can become chronic.

Good luck.

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legendindia 6 years ago

Nice hub. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Adrian 6 years ago

Yup, I've had a blackout last night.

I'm not an alcoholic and I do not drink on a regular base,

I went to a bar, had something to eat and drank some beers.

Then my friends arrived and we started to drink Rochefort ( which is one of the heaviest beers that you can drink )

I only drank 1 rochefort and some normal beers.

Normally I wouldn't even feel drunk, just tipsy.

But this time I can't remember anything after my friends arrived and my first rochefort(beer)

I actually feel off my bar chair, while reaching for my money that fell on the floor.

But other then that the people that were with me said that i acted dident sound weird, no jibberish talk not being rude or anything like that.

I woke up this morning at the front door, feeling almost normal, No major hangover etc. to be honest I felt normal.

So I had a blackout for 1-2 hours, and can't remember anything, which is freaking me out I do not want that to happen again, god knows what could've happened

Alcohol 6 years ago

Thanks for this interesting read about "blackouts." Wow! I can only imagine the dread of wondering what happened during one of those blank moments in time. I've had my share of alcohol abuse but, fortunately, I never had blackouts. I suppose it depends on the person, as this drug effects people differently from person to person. Me, I can drink above the status of an alcoholic and feel fine without being intoxicated, but I know it is not healthy.

Speaking of that, although easier said than done, beer & alcohol have excellent health benefits IF consumed in MODERATION. Arghh...I detest moderation at times. Cheers!

sadgurl 6 years ago

Had a blackout about a week ago. Drove home, had a guy friend follow me from the bar. Remember getting undressed, putting on night gown and getting in bed. That's about it. Remember vaguely having sex when I woke up next morning. Immediately went to my couch while guy was sleep in bed. A while later he comes down. He didn't mention the sex and neither did I. Found out today all the details after telling a girlfriend that the guy had taken advantage of me. Talked to the guy and he told me what happened in detail. He said I was talking normally and doing things that I know I do (playing with dog, telling jokes, just being me). Can't believe I have no memory of that night. Feel really bad because this guy really likes me. Would not have wanted our first time together to be like that. The sex is probably easier to handle but driving home in that condition is unacceptable and dangerous! I think God that nothing happened.

I did pass out twice earlier this year. I stopped doing shots and slowed down the drinking. I thought I had things under control because it hadn't happened in so long but I was truly wrong. Now I need to find a way to stop altogether. This is not the life I want to lead. My mom was an alcoholic but she never admitted it. Hope I'm not headed in that direction. I drink socially, never alone and once or twice a week. I guess I'm over indulging whenever I get a chance.

Bad Night 6 years ago

Went to a few parties last night. I was fine after the first party and once we got to the second on I was fine as well. However, I began playing a few games of pong and the last thing I remember from the night was aiming for the last cup of the game. I don't remember leaving, coming home, anything.

My grandfather was supposed to pick me up this morning at 9 to take me back to my hometown...

I woke up at 10:30, on the floor above mine, in a guy's room whose name I don't even know, nor do I recall ever seeing him before this night. I didn't have my room keys or my bag, my roommate was home for the weekend, and somehow my door was locked.

I ran down to the lobby to find my grandpa sitting there waiting on me, and requested my spare room key. Apparently the RA came into my room and I wasn't there, and my phone was in the room. They called my parents, my roommate, everyone, trying to find me. When I got a hold of my parents today, they told me that they were about five minutes away from filing a missing person's report.

I am so thankful that one, I made it home last night and two, nothing serious happened to me while I was blacked out. The night turned bad very fast, and I should be thankful to be alive today.

Winslow 6 years ago

A couple months ago, I woke up in my friend's guest room with a cuts on my hands and a bloody knee. Don't remember falling, but later on my friend told me I fell down on the walk home. He also told me I was banned from the bar where we were hanging out at. Apparently, I peed in a trash can outside and the kicked it over. I don't remember doing any of this. It is very embarrassing. I am afraid to drink now.

help 6 years ago

Last wk i had anotha blackout, i dnt drink often in fact i dnt drink in the house and dnt go out often, this is the second blackoutscince having my first child 10mths ago and i am strugaling a little. thought it would b nice to have a nite out. Onlt i woke up the next morning, with no recolection of getting home, and with a busted hand. And my son im my bed.and this is scary cause i have no memorie of taking him out of his bed and putting him in mine. My partner also didn't remember much. Looking around the house that morning i found that my wadrobe was broken and a mirror broke. But my shoes were togetha in the kitchen and my keys on the side. but i do have a memory of being outside the club asking could i go back in cause i had lost someone i was with. And of speaking to the lost person on the phone. I carnt understand what happened or hw to deal with this. I have a feeling that i also said some upsettting things to those i hold dear. I have scince been to my gp who has given me anitdepresents. I supose i jst want a answer to y it happened.

gdi hater 6 years ago

blacking out is the best. if you don't blackout you're a geed

Nessie 6 years ago

I'm not an alcoholic, but have experienced blackouts if I drink too much or too quickly, the point of too much differentiates.I'm also allergic to sulphur and have low blood pressure, and I'm on anti depressants. My last blackout was last night,hence why I'm investigating into this. I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one in the world that has had these bad and embarrassing blackouts. I'm the only one of my friends that has them and I'm so lucky that they take care of me and put up with me. I think its a bout time I was a bit more responsible and maybe not drink alcohol at all??

chris 6 years ago

I am a college student and you do not have to be an alcoholic to black out what so ever. It usually happens when you go out binge drinking. And i only drink on certain occasions and i generally blackout as do almost all people i know or have ever known that have a weekend trip northgate are areas of bars.

nick 6 years ago

i never thought of myself as an alcoholic, but i blackout almost everytime i drink. thank you for this article.

normal people do not black out, they pass out. only after years of abuse your body can go on functioning while your mind shuts down. chances are anyone else researching this knows that they might have a problem, so good luck to you.

nick -2mo sober

Ross 6 years ago

I'm not an alcoholic by any means, but I've blacked out a good amount of times on random drunken occasions. I don't think it's correct to say "normal people don't black out" It's just what happens to your body or brain or whatever the case. I blacked out last night, and I'm definitely not an alcoholic. I just had one too many shots...which I won't be doing next time.

JC 6 years ago

I probably won't remember reading this tomorrow.

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MyJourney 6 years ago from Texas, United States

Great hub!

poop 6 years ago

normal people black out too

Cheese 5 years ago

So yea I blackout if I drink too much beer, but if I buy a bottle for the night, I'll blackout after 2 drinks ? I really don't understand.. I'm not drunk but I have no memory at all. It's completely ruining my social life from it..

toomuch 5 years ago

i don't think im a acoholholic i drink often and almost always blackout i never puke or get a hangover i wake up just fine sometimes still drunk but a few times i can finish a bottle of tequila strait im starting to think i mite have a problem all my friends agree i can hang when it comes to my drinking i usually only drink on the weekends

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TOO MUCH 5 years ago

this video popped up and made me cringe. two nights ago i went into a total black out. i fell off the wagon about a month ago and i drink once every two weeks well last friday i went from having a couple of beers to drinking a quart of vodka in about five hours. to say that i made a fool out of myself is an understatement. i wish that i had seen this video before i decided to drink again.

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libertycitychico 5 years ago from Miami

Two days ago I had my last black out, and today I found out all the things I've done that night. Why do I black out and don't pass out.. I know I have a problem if every time i drink, I just don't remember. I know I'm an Alcoholics and I NEED HELP! Going o my first N/A meeting after 4 years... great info hugs

Mr Pop 5 years ago

I like how you say if you black out your an alcoholic, why cant you just say low tolarence???

DoWn614 5 years ago

There are several factors that can contribute to a black out. individuals that black out are not alcoholics... I blacked out once when i was 14 years old. simply drank way too much for my body weight and way too fast. It does not mean that im not normal. certain medications can change the way alcohol effects the body and should also never be combined with alcohol. psychiatric meds being high on the list along with people that are also diabetics since they could become too intoxicated to watch their blood sugar.PEOPLE, PLEASE MAKE SURE THE INFORMATION YOU READ IS CORRECT AND NOT BIASED IN ANY WAY!!

R.Ames 5 years ago

Can you ever remember?

Jack 5 years ago

A) Our brains DO NOT store everything, nor can "memories" be recovered through hypnosis, this has been debunked by several experiments.

B) It is EXTREMELY normal to experience blackouts. Blackouts occur do to a sharp rise in BAC, and occur far before the point of passing out due to alcohol consumption.

Please check your facts before posting false information disguised as fact, a lot of people will believe anything they read.

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RalphGreene 5 years ago

Generally, drinking alcoholic beverages doesn't make any good in my opinion. Nice hub. Thanks for sharing.

chelsea 5 years ago

I'de really like to know where you got your information from because blacking out is not a sign of alcoholism and most definitely does not mean your tolerance is messed up. I don't drink that often but I've blacked out three times. I feel less tired when I drink and it's almost impossible for me to pass out unless I was already really tired before I drank. Blacking out occurs when you drink large amounts of alcohol really fast, any other website with credible facts would tell you that. What you drank once when you were seven is in no way going to affect your tolerance years later. Tolerance is built up by constant drinking, you will know because it will take more for you to get drunk. The only affect alcohol can permanently do to you is ruin organs or handicap unborn children (besides death of course). And even then your organs will heal in time when you stop a constant rate of drinking.

5 years ago


Normal people do not black out from drinking, ever. This is because a normal person will pass out long before they black out. If you are blacking out from drinking too much alcohol then it means that your tolerance to alcohol is all messed up.


Check your "facts." Correlation does not imply causation.

You're not an alcoholic/abnormal if you black out. A blackout is caused by the concentration of alcohol in your blood, such as being way over the legal limit. Its like alcohol poisoning but in the region of your brain (the hippocampus) that regulates memory storage. It can happen to anyone who drinks too much too quickly and can't process the alcohol quick enough.

5 years ago

Very technical, but comprehensive explanation. Science over rumor always.

Need a Change 5 years ago

I'm 21 years old and a college student. I used to drink socially and always be one of the drunkest people around, then in this past year or so I have started blacking out, literally every single time I drink.

5 years ago

Its funny that they catogorize everyone who blacks out as "alcoholics." FYI you're NOT an alcoholic just because you've blacked out before.

... 5 years ago

I had a blackout for the first time last saturday!! i do not have a flipping clue what happened but i managed to leave the club, get my self home and wake up in the morning thinking what happened, The weird thing is, no one seems to remember me leaving or anything!! i am seriously worried what i did, or how i got home or who i met along the way because i do not remember anything. My mam said she was chatting to me and i don't even remember it!!1 how could this happen. I swear its scared me that much im wondering if i should every go out again and im only 19.. its scary stuff!!!1

um 5 years ago

I always blackout after a certain amount of alcohol, no matter how long it's been since I've drank, with tolerance level taken into account. It is a mathematical percentage. So, today a bottle of wine and a pint would black me out. Thus drinking two pints to remember going to bed and posting this, after two pints last night and no drinking two days before.

If I haven't drank in months years, then two pints is a blackout. If I've been drinking daily then it is two bottles of wine to blackout. Also, speaking from my own experience, not all people are equally susceptible, even taking into account body weight. I am very small, and moderate susceptible.

I use black outs as a sign of too much drinking, plain and simple. So in that sense I agree with you. I've just drank my last sip for the night, and will remember this.

Beth 5 years ago

i don't know if i blacked out or my drink was spiked, i only shared a bottle of wine at home then cant remember things pretty quick from then on. i have shared many bottle of wine and always been fine before.

Me 5 years ago

Ah so thaaat's what happened last night..

jim 5 years ago

suffered what i think was my first blackout which was comitting a random act of violence on a friend whom i had been having a good laugh with. i had been totally unaware of blackouts which i falsley assumed meant falling asleep after drinking too much. my doctor confirmed my worst im stopping drinking

Joe cavanaugh 5 years ago

This is the best summery for blackouts I've found. I have had many blackouts and always thought it was from quantity but never assumed it to be from consuming to fast, but in looking back it makes since. 3 -4 glasses of wine in 45-60 minutes is fast for me. It becomes like water no taste ,just hurry to finish the lunch. Thanks to all , in the mean time I have stopped all drinking. I am much happier .

jeremy 4 years ago

what about blackouts after a small amount of alcohol, like w few beers or a few glasses of wine?

is it any way to avoid it except for stop drinking at all?

i'm talking about party drinking (ones a week, ones every other week, not every day).

John 4 years ago

You don't need to be an alcoholic to black out. I was not in college, and drank maybe once a week. Blackouts don't always cause you to be completely stupid either; Once I was able to order food (footlong sub) and then walk the 30 minutes home in the middle of winter. I don't remember that 4-5 hours of blackout but I am not an alcoholic and I was still able to function (although apparently I did some funny stuff)

Rod 4 years ago

Drank four mugs of beer, then four or five small glasses of JD #7 don't remember anything after bringing the house down at a karaoke bar woke up next morning @ about 6:45 am, didn't throw up. Don't remember how I got to my hotel room.

Javi 4 years ago

does Blackout cause long term affects?

irish 4 years ago

been blacking out a lot but then i drink a lot, it just seem that ever time i drink i blackout don't remember a thing that's scares me as i could do something really bad and not remember ..i think what he saying is right the mind don't record it.... as even years later i can't remember . if it was in there i would remember at so i am not alcoholics or addicted i am just irish

oceans53 4 years ago

Had my 4th blackout in the last calendar year this past weekend-first one was last March 2010. There might have been one or two times a few years back but ever since I have been on this one medication (2004)I cannot drink. The tolerance is getting lower each time. Wasn't even much liquor this time. Seems the only thing I can drink anymore is beer. Black out lasted over 1-1/2 hrs. Never passed out and didn't wake up hungover or sick. Was extremely nasty, sad, yelling, crying. Don't remember any of it. Only 5 shots of rum in a 3-1/2 hour time frame. Time before that was 4 glasses of wine. Time before that was about the same amount of wine and before that was too many shots of whiskey and they called 911 on me since I was violently ill and unresponsive. Other than these 4 episodes, I rarely drink. Maybe if we are out to dinner I'll have one. My personality completely changes. I am a nice, friendly, person and turn into an evil SOB.

An alcoholic is someone who needs alcohol daily in order to function. Most real alcoholics are your neighbors next door who come home with a 6 pack every night and drink that or fix a few martinis when they walk in the door and then drink more on the weekend, but they drink all the time and sometime you never even know it. They have a tolerance built up for alcohol as well.

A lot of times for someone like me, there is no tolerance so the smallest amount hits me right away. A lot has to do with our body chemistry, if we have eaten and how fast we drink and medication. It's is pretty freaky when someone tells you what you did for a few hours and you can't even grasp one little memory of it. It like your going along just fine enjoying the day and boom the switch turns off in your head and your done.

Run 4 years ago

I recently blacked out and a friend said I was groping her while sleeping next to my girlfriend. To do this does not seem practical to me for I love my GF and wouldn't risk losing her for anything. The scariest thing is I have no idea what really happened because it is not like the night is a blur it is like after a certain time the night did not even exist.

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Nine 4 years ago

Wow I was looking this up because I black out a lot. I never remember getting home and it usually happens when I hit the outside air altho it has happened other times too. Thing is I'm not an alcoholic. I go out once every 3 months but I would consider myself a light weight I am small and not that heavy. Even so there are times I have only a few drinks and still black out so should I be worried. alcoholism does run in the family tho and the way a family member describes herself while drinking actually describes my behavior only thing is I really hate alcohol and very rarely drink it probably because of this very fact and i feel so sick and depressed the next day. Should I be worried about this since I'm not a big drinker or am I just not that used to it

alex 4 years ago

Yes I am to all fimiliar with BO. I have been drinking for a long time been sober and just to start drinking once again...A bad choice in coping. I read its not how much we drink its our reaction to it that makes us lushes. I am tired of my BO and the behavior that goes with it. Hurting people-hurting myself ruin relations. verbal abusive words to people i supposely love. Sorry just anit cutting it anymore. For me carries more shame and guit constantly as i battle this addiction. So now once again I will get sober. Have been before and I was happy really peace within. Now I feel like crap again and all those bad feelings have resurfaced. Sober 2 days today.

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kelli88 4 years ago

Thank you for posting this. I too wish I would have read this two months ago and my life would be completely different than it is today. I started drinking too much as i moved right around the corner from the local bar, and i started blacking out way too often. I noticed a problem when I would have maybe only 3 glasses of wine, and would completely black out... i wish i took the warning signs. My rock bottom came when I completely blacked out, and woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed hooked to an iv.... the story is so terrifying (from what i hear) but thankfully someone prevented me from driving and saved my life. Anyways, court ordered to attend aa (and anger management), and i have to say, aa is the best thing that has ever happened to me. ALthough everyday is a constant struggle and i have relapsed a few times (back at only 4 days sober), i am at least trying. But if you can learn anything form my story, if you are blacking out, STOP drinking... at least for a little while. It is usually a sing of alcoholism and your body is trying to tell you something. As said, usually people NEVER blackout in their life... frightening right? if you want to talk feel free to email :)

Dave 4 years ago

Blacking out is when your mind says "I'm getting the f**K out of here" but your body says "this is my night!".

Chelsea 3 years ago

I'd like to know who wrote this article and from where they gathered their information. Black outs are caused by alcohol inhibiting memory function in the hippocampus, and can be experienced by first time drinkers and alcoholics alike, and from different levels of alcohol intake. This article is extremely biased and negative- referring to all who black out as "alcoholics" was my first clue that this article is not scientifically based. Normal people can and do black out; don't let this misinformation fool you.

Emma 3 years ago

I think that there are other factors that can trigger blackouts, like taking prescription psychiatric medication. It messes with your liver so the alcohol isn't metabolized consistently, rather it's metabolized all at once an triggers a rise in bac which in turn triggers the blackout.

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jackdaniels 6 months ago

I used to like blacking out,, because I wouldnt remember the ugly gals i'd hook up with,, now im married,, and blacking out is no fun,, because supposedly I am verbally aggressive when blacked out and my wife doesnt appreciate it..... it sucks,,, it is hard to ride the line between being buzzed and blacking out for me,,,, i never know when its going to hit me.... i am trying to quit,, drinking alltogether,,,it is difficult... if you dont drink yet,,,dont start... bye

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