Blackouts- What they are, and aren’t..

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 :

Namaste.

Author:

nurse, mother, artist, and chameleon ...

14 thoughts on “Blackouts- What they are, and aren’t..

  1. That book definitely helped me stay the course when I started sobriety. Blackouts will scare the shit out of you! It’s just so fricked up how alcohol companies can create these relax and enjoy some cold ones with friends advertisements…when they are literally selling poison! That is definitely a great truth and the more we educate ourselves on alcohol the clearer it gets to stay the hell away from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yup..insanely- i know a LOT of friends who still havent even realized they are having blackouts. They dont remember them and seems either no one has told them enough to scare them or they dot believe the ones who do.

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  2. So funny, I literally just purchased that book on Kindle yesterday and started reading it! It’s very interesting. And part of the reason why I knew I had to stop drinking again this tone around was because I started regularly experiencing blackout. I had them previously on a very rare occasion where I couldn’t remember exactly how I’d gotten home and that sort of thing, maybe a couple of times a year. But this time around it seemed that I was having blackouts almost every time I drank. One time I cooked a whole dinner for friends, ate the whole things with my husband and friends (silently apparently) and then quietly just left the table and went straight to bed. When I woke up I couldn’t remember the last part of cooking, any of the eating, or going to bed. It totally freaked me out. I mean nothing crazy happened and I was in a safe environment, but just the fact that could happen to my brain was really scary. I’d had bits and pieces of an evening missing before but never a whole big chunk. The book is great and a real eye opener! Thanks for sharing your perspective on this 😊

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    1. yup..thats exactly what started happening to me and i equate mine with the hormonal shifts from menopause..towards the height of my weekly binging, it happened almost every time and then started happening multiple times and evening for longer periods. Scary as hell. Btw i listened to the book on cd in my car . It’s read by the author and she does such a great job of making you actually FEEL the horror..

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    2. I had a similar occurrence! I made an amazing Italian meal. I remember preparing it and such but I guess I sat and ate and then got up from the table and went to bed. Really upset me as it was a delicious meal for my parents. I woke up wanting to die.

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  3. Seeing myself during a blackout through the magic of cell phones was one of the events that led to me having a pretty successful recovery, I was in the bathtub throwing up, while friends were trying to help me as I was lecturing my little sister about not drinking too much… it wasn’t particularly embarrassing as much as it was really weird to not remember it at all even though I saw a video of it, it made me wonder what else I had done and know that I didn’t know. 🪔

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    1. ah yes..it is weird, especially the first time..like, i couldn’t actually believe the person telling me. after awhile it really became obvious though..i had to acknowledge all the evidence..including videos i took of myself and didnt remember!!!!

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  4. i’ve wanted to post about this topic for a long time…but never really got around to it. Glad i did. I had one friend who i KNOW blacked out almost every time she drank for years. In the morning she acted as if absolutely nothing strange or bad had happened, often talking to people she totally raged at for hours as if she had no clue.. before i understood it , i thought she was just blocking it out by choice ad would really be angry with her. She has moved away now, but i believe she likely still continues in this pattern.Maybe she really doesnt know…

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  5. Great post and oh yeah I have been there before. I never rage or anything I just keep, keeping on and the next day have no idea what I spoke of to anyone. When that nights topics came up I just went with it in hopes they would think I just forgot. So stupid. Such a waste. My brain deserves better than that. Thanks for posting this Lovie!!

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