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© Jack Trimpey, 2006, all rights reserved.

One 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.

The 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 own stupidity.

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.

If 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 false.

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.

To 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.

To gain confidence in your ability to abstain under all conditions, study Addictive Voice Recognition Technique® (AVRT®) diligently. Go to The Crash Course on AVRT®.

© Copyright, 2014, Rational Recovery Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.