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Blackouts

Blackouts

Blackouts

 

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What Happened?

Have you ever woken to that horrible feeling of WHAT HAPPENED?  You open your eyes, look at your car keys as if they are some foreign object (they are usually on the floor beside your pants, a party hat and a wad of credit card receipts) and wonder, “Oh, God… Did I drive?”  Your mind is a black hole – no recollection of the night before…

 

Memory blackouts occur in the hippocampus of the brain, when large amounts of alcohol are consumed quickly, creating a rapid rise in blood alcohol content.  Alcohol impedes the ability for information to transfer from short-term memory to long-term storage in the brain, hence the gaps in recollection. Two types of alcohol-induced blackouts have been identified: en bloc (total) or fragmented (partial).  I can’t decide which is worse, remembering nothing or remembering a snippet – shitthere was a dance-off, and broken glass and a pet monkey, I think…where’s my left shoe?  200px-Gray739-emphasizing-hippocampus

 

Blackouts are different from passing out and are more dangerous.  When passed out, a person basically stops functioning and curls up with their head on the lap of a stranger, appearing to fall asleep.  In a blackout, a person appears to function “normally” because they are able to use working and short-term memory to carry on conversations (yikes) and participate in a wide variety of activities which they don’t remember doing afterwards, such as vandalism, texting an ex, unprotected sex, driving a car and spending money (double yikes).

 

College students (shot, shot, shot) and women are most susceptible to blackouts, but social drinkers can experience them too, if they forget to eat before drinking and drink too quickly.  There is evidence that blackouts occur regularly after the first manifestation, so it is advisable to get off the sauce for a while if you experience a blackout.

 

I communicate with a woman who says she used to write things down while she was drinking, so she could “fake remember” what had happened during an evening with her husband.  Isn’t that sad?  I got good at asking people to “refresh my memory.”  I was like one of those sham psychics who “cold read” for clues: I see a dark haired man in your future – no wait – his hair is blonde… a sort of reddish blonde?

 

A friend of mine and I were talking about blackouts yesterday, and he said, “I drank the highest percentage of alcohol to get drunk fast. I was not a social drinker. I drank to kill my mind and hopefully make another day disappear.  Blackouts were so common, but I welcomed the world letting me off…”
Stop the world.  I want to get off.  Is that why we drink to oblivion?

 

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I’m feeling dizzy…

 

My favorite thing about  being sober is the morning.  I no longer wake with that OHOH  feeling.  There is no moral or psychical inventory necessary (I used to run a finger over my porcelain veneers every morning to make sure they were intact).  There is no headache and no shame.  I remember everything.

 

Stop the world.  I want to get back on…

Today I’m not drinking because, I like the feeling of remembering what happened last night…

How come you’re not drinking?

 

For more information on what happens to the brain during a blackout, read this fabulous article on GIZMODO.

Comments (6)

  1. Kim
    Mar 9, 2015

    How come you're not drinking?
    Everyone around me is blacking out
    The only black in my life …..my fathers eyes, my best friends memories, my wardrobe. I guess life is good

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Mar 10, 2015

      Black wardrobe is essential. Let’s agree on that. Black eyes and black holes where memory should be – not so much… Just keep shining your brand of light on me my friend – you are one of the main reasons I wake with a memory. And there’s a lot of good to remember. Life is good.
      Love.
      M

  2. Dr. Waller
    Mar 9, 2015

    How come you're not drinking?
    Because I am busy reading all the links on the bottom of the GIZMODO article
    Marilyn, what a welcome post. This is extremely important topic to discuss. People need to be educated to understand the effects of alcohol. I encourage others to read the article on GIZMODO, but even go farther and hit the links on the bottom of the article. They are fantastic. Anyone with alcohol concerns should be encouraged to print this out and discuss these issues with any professional. Educating ourselves and learning to ask for help is key to healing.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Mar 10, 2015

      Great “extra reading” – easily understandable to the lay person too. I spent a lot of time on this subject. I am fascinated by the why. Why does the brain send pleasure, what parts moderate pleasure and what happens in the brain when we drink a lot – fast. I am concerned that the habit of binge drinking, defined as 5 drinks in two hours for men and 4 for women is prevalent among college students and social drinkers (at least in my social circles) – maybe we are all just trying to escape…There is nothing so frightening as an empty space where memories should be. I am grateful, every day for my newfound clear head. I’ll say it again – my favorite part about being sober is the morning! Thanks for the comment and for reading.
      M

  3. Richard
    Mar 9, 2015

    How come you're not drinking?
    Trying to avoid blackouts...
    M. Many mornings I would walk (fearfully) outside to see if my car was there……then checking for damage…..no recollection of how/when I got home. But the worst was when someone said something like…”i can’t believe what you said to(enter name or names) last night! I still say stupid stuff, but unfortunately I remember it. Thank you for continuing to bring up the ugly side of alcoholic drinking. The “not remembering” was scary.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Mar 10, 2015

      Oh God. The “look” when the eyebrows are raised and they say, “You were HILARIOUS last night.” And you have no clue as to what they are talking about. I am enjoying learning the why of it all – the areas of the brain that are affected by alcohol. Thanks for your honest comment and believe me I’ve been there…
      M

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