© Jack Trimpey, 2006, all rights reserved.
of the most serious results of excessive drinking is the loss of memory
for the events and one’s own behavior during the night before. Here is
a brief discussion of alcoholic blackout:
What is an alcoholic blackout?
Enough alcohol will prevent the brain from recording new memories.
Think of it as like your computer, which has temporary, short-term, RAM
memory that holds your programs and collects new data. You also have a
hard drive to save the data collected in RAM. An alcoholic blackout is
like having the “Save” command disabled, so that you can still operate
the programs, but when you shut down, nothing is saved to memory. Much
very important data will be lost.
amnesia may be partial, or fragmentary, so that, upon awakening, one
may remember some of what transpired while intoxicated. Or, it may be a
total amnesia starting after the drinking began until the time of
awakening. Either way, loss of memory from drinking should set off
sirens, bells, whistles, and red flags in everyone’s judgment, starting
with the problem drinker’s.
If I have a blackout, does that mean I have addictive disease, or alcoholism?
Not at all. It simply means that your drinking days are over. The
disease concept of addiction is highly controversial, with very few
physicians and scientists convinced that addiction is, or is caused by,
an inherited or acquired disease. Moreover, people who believe they
have addictive disease tend to continue drinking, but using disease as
an excuse or justification. It is more productive to view drinking as
great stupidity, or as immoral conduct, rather than as a condition
causing one to drink so much that blackouts occur. One can do little
about a mysterious disease, but we can all deal effectively with our
Are alcoholic blackouts harmful?
They are much more harmful in the psychosocial sense than medically,
although repeated blackout drinking may result in permanent changes in
the brain. During the amnesia, one is typically functioning as a beast,
without normal restraint of emotions, impulses, and desires that may
result in enormous harm to self and others. Violence during blackouts
is common, as well as grevious sexual errors, verbal abuse, and bizarre
behavior that will certainly be remembered by important observers, like
one’s family, employers, friends and former friends, and neighbors.
you have ever had an alcoholic blackout, tell no one — not even your
doctor. There is no treatment for alcoholic blackouts other than
abstinence, nor is there any treatment for addiction that protects one
from further alcohol consumption. The fact of your alcoholic blackout
may be held against you in many ways. It will put you into a special
category that is discriminated against by criminal court, family court,
health care, and throughout our social service system. You will be much
less able to defend yourself against any accusation, by anyone, however
If I had a blackout, does that mean I should stop drinking altogether?
If you would seriously ask this question after having just one
alcoholic blackout, your question itself is proof positive that you
have a serious drinking problem. You are in the grip of an addiction
that is distorting your ability to reason about your use of alcohol.
Any further use of alcohol, ever, places you at high risk of having
future blackouts and suffering progressively worse patterns of horror
and personal distress related to alcohol.
prevent worsening problems, it will be necessary for you to quit
drinking altogether, for life. Stay away from recovery groups of all
kinds, which leave open the possibility of “relapses,” which you cannot
afford. Set your confidence for lifetime abstinence arbitrarily at
100%, recognize all self-doubt on this matter as your inner enemy, and
you’ll do fine. Addiction recovery through abstinence alone is
commonplace, takes little time, feels good immediately, and brings
happiness before long.
confidence in your ability to abstain under all conditions, study
Addictive Voice Recognition Technique® (AVRT®) diligently. Go to The Crash Course on AVRT®.