When i first started thinking about making this post so many things went through my mind. Of course i thought about my own experiences, and how, from those experiences, realizing just how many times i had witnessed others in a black out state. In fact, i hadn’t known what it actually meant until i read a very good book about it called “Blackout” by Sarah Hepola. The funny thing is when i looked up an image in google images to post along with this topic here is basically what i saw:
And so on…i was kind of taken aback. It seems that most of the world truly believes what i did prior to understanding the difference between passing out and blacking out. How can it be that even with all of the current knowledge we have acquired about this disease that this most dangerous aspect is misconstrued even by such a large platform of images????
“First, it does not mean that you pass out or become unconscious. In fact, by definition, people who have had alcohol-related blackouts have retained consciousness, said Reagan Wetherill, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist who does addiction research. “A person in a blackout is conscious and interacting with their environment,” she said.”
In fact, way back when i first started going to various AA meetings, trying to find one i was comfortable with, i even attended one particular meeting where the 2 men running it seemed clueless as to the difference. As it was a new group, there were only 4-5 of us and we all were able to speak that night. When it came to my turn i explained i knew i needed to seek help when i started having blackout periods. I explained in detail that i had been fully functional ( as told to me by witnesses) and even appeared to be mostly “normal”. I was interacting, not slurring, speaking and physically acting like i did at almost any other part of the night. Sometimes though i would say and do things that were not very nice, not very acceptable, and totally out of character. And i remembered NONE of it. One of the men piped up and stated that perhaps i just did not want to remember it. The other one then chimed in and stated that many alcoholics claim not to remember out of embarrasment.
I.was.livid. And i never returned to that group.It was humiliating and i felt like i was directly being accused of lying.
But here’s the real deal. During a true blackout, the brain is not capable of recording the events. It is complete and total amnesia. In fact, you will never remember the events because your brain simply does not keep them on file. You don’t remember even when prompted, told details or even if you are show a video of yourself. FACTS.
That is why this part of drinking is so dangerous. The consensus is that it occurs not from how much is drank, but the combination of that and the speed at which you drink it. Adding in other factors for age, height & weight as well as type of alcohol- it can be lethal. Think “amnesia of the truly stupid”. I have literally climbed rooftops, trees and towers. I have fallen down flights of stairs. I have gone on raging bouts of anger towards someone for things i don’t even remember, sometimes throwing or punching things- then waking up wondering why in the hell i was bruised and bleeding.
But, i was lucky. I never got into a car.I never roamed the streets. I never turned a weapon on myself or seriously, physically harmed anyone. I never completely broke a bone ( just twisted ankles , cracked a rib and fractured my tailbone). I never landed i a hospital or jail. But that isnt the case for many.
When i learned and hence became aware that this phenomenon was very real, i delved into educating myself about it. Yet even now, trying to explain it to those who have never dealt with it, especially on a regular basis, is still tough. People simply cannot comprehend the biological process regarding how the brain operates( or rather doesn’t operate correctly) during these moments.They are still thought to be simply passing out, or deliberately not remembering by many.
I hope as we discover more about the effects of this toxin, we are able to educate others more fully and correctly.
If you havent read it :