Blackouts and alcohol poisoning occur with alarming frequency among people who consider themselves to be moderate drinkers. Many people who drink may consume less than two drinks per day, which is the recommended level, but they may go out and “tie one on” on the weekend. Around 50% of people who drink experience blackouts at some point, and young drinkers are prone to binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. It is important not to treat these incidents lightly to but realize that even occasional alcohol abuse can still signal a problem.
The Problem of Binge Drinking
Most people have seen exuberant parties on college campuses and feel that weekend drinking is a rite of passage and a part of college life. The fact is that drinking too much on weekends can have an effect on one’s health. Blackouts caused by alcohol can lead to destructive behavior, such as driving drunk and risky sexual behaviors that can have permanent consequences. In addition, alcohol poisoning can cause irregularities in the heart rate and brain damage, in severe cases. Sometimes, a person can choke in on his own vomit. For this reason, people who seemed to have passed out should be watched and given medical help if serious signs develop.
One of the biggest problems with binge drinking is that it is often not taken seriously enough. People might not feel they have a problem with alcohol or dependence if they engage in weekend drinking. However, needing to go out and get drunk every Saturday night is enough to create the problem of addiction. Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than two drinks and hour for a period of hours. The liver can’t oxidize more alcohol than this and alcohol, which is a depressant, overwhelms the body, raises blood alcohol levels and impairs cognitive functioning.
The Difference Between Blackouts and Passing out
Many people speak of blackouts from alcohol and passing out interchangeably, but there are different things that happen to the brain in each case. Blackouts are a form of amnesia that occurs while someone is intoxicated. During bouts of severe drinking, the hippocampus in the brain is not able to create new memories. People do not forget what they did when they were drinking. The reality is that the memories were never formed in the first place.
Passing out is a loss of consciousness as the result of drinking. If you try to wake someone up who has passed out, they will not respond. A person should not be left alone when they have passed out nor should they be regarded as if they are simply “sleeping it off.” Vomiting can occur even when someone has passed out, and they could choke. In addition, you should make sure that breathing and heart rate are normal.
Drinking and Young People
Unfortunately, drinking to the point of loss of consciousness is considered a game by some young people. This can have deleterious effects on the brain and can lead to dangerous activities. While most people who drink have passed out or blacked out at some point, the issue of binge drinking should be taken seriously, and the reality of alcohol dependence should not be ruled out if it happens regularly.
Image courtesy of [Naypong] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net