Understanding Black Out Drunk: Why Does It Happen?

Most people get drunk at least once in their lifetime. The majority will claim that they only have a few drinks, whereas others will have too many to count. It is not just a phase for a lot of people; it is a regular occurrence.

Getting drunk to the point of blacking out is a risk that many people will take. The fun and excitement can be too tempting to resist, but almost anyone will admit to failing at it and getting too plastered to remember the hazy nights before. 

For occasional drinkers who only consume alcohol during special events, then blacking out feels like a rite of passage. But for alcoholics, it’s a daily escape. In either scenario, what does really happen to your body when you get blackout drunk?

What Does Blackout Drunk Really Mean?

The term “blackout drunk” has become a catchphrase in many drinking circles. It refers to the oblivion that one experiences when one drinks enough alcohol to get drunk. For the most part, the levels of alcohol in your system can impair your ability to talk and walk, and you will begin to slur, which is usually at 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or more. This is the legal limit in most states in America, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

This is usually a sign that you are at least slightly intoxicated. Even so, you will probably be able to carry on a conversation, albeit a bit slower and less coherent. From that point one, you will drink more and more, until you pass out and become unresponsive, which is at the point of 0.16 BAC. If you’ve never experienced this, then you may be interested in knowing exactly what happens when a person passes out because of alcohol.

The Adverse Effects Of Alcohol

Does a person pass out because of alcohol experience different effects or is it the same thing every time? The answer is that it’s a different experience every time. Complete blackout is one end of the spectrum, but, at the same time, it is the most dangerous.

Alcohol, in large amounts, can cause different levels of brain damage. People who have consumed too much alcohol will suffer from irreversible damage to their hippocampus.

This region of the brain is responsible for learning, storage of memories, and spatial navigation, so it is extremely important. People who drink a lot of alcohol and experience a blackout lack these abilities once they sober up.

How Can You Tell if Someone is Blackout Drunk?

People who have been drinking a lot of alcohol are not easy to spot. Even if they are slurring their speech or bumping into things, people may not remember it the next day. It can be hard to tell if someone is blackout drunk, but luckily, there are certain signs to look for.

One of the most obvious signs that a person is blackout drunk is that they become unresponsive to stimuli. If someone is snoring or drooling, it’s usually a good indication that they are not just inebriated. Even if someone is still conscious, it is a good idea to call an ambulance or take them to the hospital, even if they don’t want to.

The decisions that they make while they are in this state are not likely to be the decisions that they would make when sober. Someone who is drunk is more likely to make a decision that they will regret when they sober up, so it is important to get them to safety before they become a danger to themselves. 

understanding black out drunk why does it happen
Understanding Black Out Drunk: Why Does It Happen?

Three-Word Game: Testing if Someone is Blackout Drunk 

While there are many things that people can do to figure out whether or not someone is blackout drunk, one way to test is the three-word game. This works by giving a person three unrelated words, be it a color, food, and a place, and the person must be able to repeat the words. 

Naturally, even a drunk person can repeat the words on the spot. But distract them for a few minutes and ask them to recall the three words to truly test their level of drunkenness. If the person only recalls two words, then they are not yet fully blacked out. However, if the person doesn’t remember anything, then they’re likely at the stage of blacking out. 

What are the Dangers of Blackout Drinking?

Another danger of drinking alcohol while blacked out is the effects that it can have on the body. Alcohol is a depressant and can weaken the other functions of the body. For example, someone who is blackout drunk will not be able to function properly. 

They may fall, trip, and even pass out, which can lead to serious injuries. This isn’t just a risk to the person who is blackout drunk either. Others who are around the person are at risk for injury as well. It is not just the dangers of driving a car under the influence that other people have to worry about either.

People who drink and drive may not always be able to function on their own, and it is common for someone who is caught up in the thrill of drinking to do something as dangerous as this.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Blackout Drinking?

Another danger of frequent blackout drinking is the long-term effects that it can have on the body. The long-term effects of alcohol go beyond the first blackout and can actually become permanent if you do not stop drinking.

One of the most common long-term effects of drinking too much alcohol is the erosion or destruction of the hippocampus. This becomes a serious problem because it can make it harder to learn and form new memories, making it difficult to complete the tasks of daily life.

The liver is another important organ that can be damaged by drinking too much alcohol. Even one too many drinks can cause lasting damage to the liver and other vital organs, so it is important to be mindful of overindulging. Not to mention, the liver may not be able to regenerate itself. While there are ways to reverse the damage, it is not always possible and drinking can continue to affect the liver.

Another negative effect of drinking too much and becoming blackout drunk can be on a person’s social life. It is not uncommon for people who drink too much to say and do things that they regret in the cold light of day.

People who are left with a blacked-out memory are likely to think that they did something they didn’t. This can take a toll on relationships, friendships, and careers. The best way to prevent this from ruining your life is to stop drinking altogether.

The Bottom Line: Understanding the Risks of Getting Blackout Drunk

For most people, getting blackout drunk is an occasional event, but for some, it can be more than that. The bottom line is that people who drink too much are at risk for some serious health problems. They also put others at risk of injury and other detrimental consequences.

If you know someone who is blackout drunk at least once a week, and they have no memory of the night before, it is a good idea to take away their car keys, phone, and any other belongings that would make them a danger to themselves. You may need help getting them to the hospital or a secure location where they will not hurt themselves.

It is not uncommon for people who drink regularly to experience an alcohol blackout, but it is not something that people should experience regularly. To lower the risk of blacking out, try to drink in moderation and at least have a designated driver around to help avoid drunk driving.