Tuesday, 25 August 2015

ALCOHOL BLACKOUTS- 10 avoidable risk factors

Alcohol blackout is a period  of memory loss or amnesia for events that unfolded while intoxicated.[1]

The subjects who black out don't lose consciousness and are able to carry out tasks with some deficit like driving, sustaining a conversation e.t.c. Individuals who experience blackout may engage in heinous and anti-social exaggerated behavior which later may deny such acts or form a selective memory over their acts in the indent of avoiding guilt and confrontation over such acts. [2]

The magnitude of cognitive impairment is a factor which varies with blood alcohol concentration. [1]


Fragmentary / partial blackout- the subjects later forms partial memory of events that transpired during intoxication. The memory formation can be defined as spotty, partial and can be recalled when subjects are prompted, reminded or cued.[2]

En  bloc / complete blackout- the subject has no memory of events that transpired while intoxicated and memory can not be cued or prompted. The subject has a potential to remember episodes that ensued within 2 minutes but not any other memory prior this. [1][2]


Gulping alcohol - gulping alcohol as opposed to gentle sipping leads to rapid increase in blood alcohol concentration which is a risk factor to blacking out. [1]
Drinking games are common and gulping rather than sipping an alcoholic drink is very prevalent and characteristic of drinking games. Individuals are more orchestrated to the odds of blacking out when they ingest alcohol faster as they do most college campus students which compromises both attention and memory functions of the brain.[3]

Drinking on empty stomach- taking alcohol on an empty stomach is plainly lethal. Empty stomach creates grounds for faster absorption of alcohol into the system with resultant rapid spikes of blood alcohol concentration increasing the risks for blacking out.[] When alcohol is consumed with food in the stomach, it reduces the amount of alcohol in contact with the stomach wall for absorption which delays absorption and protects fro rapid increase of blood alcohol level. [3]
Drug interaction- alcohol is thought to enhance effects of other drugs that are able to induce amnesia e.g benzodiazepines. This increases the likelihood of blacking out when used concomitantly. [1]

History of blackouts- individuals with history of blacking out after alcohol consumption are at risk of experiencing memory impairment on consuming alcohol. [1]

Individual Brain Variations- using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the brain of people who blacked out has been found to significant decline in activity of part of brain responsible for memory and attention than for people who didn't black out. This is to demonstrate that different people respond differently to the effects of alcohol as a result of effects of alcohol to the functions of brain.[3]

Genetic variations- studies show that if one twin tends to blackout after consuming alcohol so does the other twin.[1]

Gender- research has shown that female are at risk of blacking out than men. This could be substantiated by the fact that women weigh less than men. Women are more likely to consume alcoholic beverages with more alcohol concentration than men like wine as opposed to beer. Enzyme dehydrogenase is found in the gut and helps in breaking down a smaller portion of alcohol before absorption. Women have less dehydrogenase in their gut as compared to men putting them to risk of spikes of blood alcohol concentration predisposing the to alcohol blackouts.
Dieting is more common in female genders and are more likely to swayed by the idea of cutting down on calories which makes them take alcohol without feeding increasing the rate in which alcohol is absorbed into the system.[3]

Hydration- hydrating oneself can be as protective as taking lesser bottles of beer. When an individual is well hydrated, it increases the media in which alcohol dissolves and avoids rapid shooting of blood alcohol level. The opposite to hydration is apparently indisputable and will see blood alcohol level rise fast putting one at throes of blacking out. Ordering that liter of water can be life saving.[3]


Body weight- People who weigh more are less predisposed to alcoholic blackout as opposed to those with less body weight by the virtue that, people with more body weight have more surface area or rather a media in which alcohol dissolves avoiding rapid shooting of blood alcohol level.[3]

Know yourself- This can be as broad as the principles that you lay down for yourself. Pacing alcohol intake, feed before and also when taking alcohol, include non-alcoholic beverages like colas, water e.t.c, limit yourself to an amount that suits you, consume beer as opposed to spirits and most of all, alcohol abstinence for better health and financial status.


1. What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain - National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. By Aaron M. White, Ph.D. Address: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/186-196.htm
2. Alcohol-induced blackout- PMC-NCBI. By Hamin Lee, Sungwon Roh and Dai Jin Kim. Published online 2009 Nov 6. Address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800062/
3.  New Studies Shed Much-Needed Light on Alcohol-Induced Memory Blackouts -National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (NY) Address: http://ncadd.org/in-the-news/374-new-studies-shed-much-needed-light-on-alcohol-induced-memory-blackouts. Viewed on 04/07/2015.