A High-Functioning Alcoholic: 20 Years Sober

In addition to their prevalence rate of 54%, Barnett and colleagues (2014) found that college students reported experiencing an alcohol-induced blackout nearly once every five drinking weeks during the first year of college. Thus, alcohol-induced blackouts are not only common among those who consume alcohol, but also recur over time. A person is more likely to experience an alcohol-related blackout when their BAC is 0.16% or higher. For many of these individuals, drinking is all about getting intoxicated. Whenever large amounts of alcohol are consumed within a short period of time, its effects on brain functioning are both startling and extreme.

  • Frequent blackouts indicate a pattern of unsafe drinking that can lead to an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • According to data from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among the 133.1 million people who consumed alcohol in the U.S., roughly 45% had participated in binge drinking in the last month.
  • They feel less risk and may injure themselves when acting without strong judgment.

Alcohol-induced blackouts during the past three months prospectively predicted increased social and emotional negative consequences, but not alcohol dependence symptoms the following year. These findings contradict Jellinek’s theory of alcoholism, which posits that alcohol-induced blackouts are a precursor of alcoholism (Jellinek, 1952). Blackouts may not cause direct harm, but the amount of drinking you have to do to become blackout drunk has serious consequences — especially over time.

Addiction Destroys Dreams, We Can Help

People who experience an alcohol-related blackout may keep walking, talking, making decisions, and drinking, but they don’t remember some or all of what happened. These people may seem relatively fine to those around them despite their memory impairment. Take our free, 5-minute alcohol abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with alcohol abuse.

For example, if you start drinking when you’re lonely and sad, you may find the alcohol makes you feel even more desolate and distressed than you did when you were sober. An earlier study found that alcohol use enhanced aggression primarily among individuals who showed a heightened disposition for such behavior (Eckhardt and Crane, 2008). They were directed to engage in a task with the potential to trigger aggressive verbalizations, with those who consumed alcohol showing significantly more such behavior.


Similarly, in nearly 40% of violent incidents, surveyed individuals from the United Kingdom said they believed their perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol. While drinking alcohol isn’t the sole reason for https://ecosoberhouse.com/ assault, it plays a substantial role in whether someone commits a violent crime. They found that alcohol dependence symptoms predicted an increased frequency of blackouts and consequences the following year.

  • Yes, some of you who get angry when you drink have anger-management issues.
  • The volunteers were actually playing against the researchers themselves.
  • So-called blackouts and brownouts can lead to temporary and even permanent memory loss.

The more times you blackout, the more times you are impairing your balance, motor skills, impulse control and decision-making to the point where you may do something dangerous or self-injurious. About 26 percent of Americans 18 and older have engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Alcohol blackouts are poorly understood by most people because they don’t recognize the risks they or their friends face when they get blackout drunk. Anyone who is engaging in blackout drinking needs to seek assistance in getting clean. Depending on how often they are drinking, it is possible they will experience withdrawal and need help with those symptoms, including the kindling phenomenon. No matter how severe the addiction is, there are ways to get better.

What is a Blackout?

A BORG is a gallon-sized container, often a jug, filled halfway with water, a fifth of vodka or other alcohol, water flavor enhancers and electrolyte powder. Those who drink from BORGs are interested in the trend because it reduces the likelihood of someone spiking your drink with an unknown substance because it’s in a sealed, personal container that you carry around. Psychiatrist and addiction specialist David Streem, MD, explains details about the viral trend, while also busting some myths on binge drinking. With treatment, most people will be able to continue their daily activities. If a person’s blackouts are related to an underlying medical condition, they should stop once the person receives treatment to manage the condition. If a person experiences blackouts as a result of stress, this is known as a psychogenic blackout.

Previously, even medical professionals thought that memory loss when drinking was due to the depressive effect alcohol has on the central nervous system at large. Now, they understand that alcohol has different effects on different parts of the brain. This is a logical conclusion given the fact that those experiencing blackouts can continue to use their central nervous alcoholic rage syndrome system for things like walking and talking. Blackouts are dangerous events, as the individual basically loses the ability to be cogent or aware of their actions. In most cases, the individual will pass out from intoxication and sleep off the effects of the alcohol, but in the morning may remember nothing about a specific period of time from the prior night.

It may take days for power to be restored

“We all have heard of stories of intoxicated people falling down the stairs, or having head and brain trauma, possibly death.” If a person’s BAC inches toward 0.3, they can also enter a coma or it can be lethal. Many people with “angry drunk” tendencies also end up on the wrong side of law. The lack of inhibitions that causes them to lose their temper can lead to bar fights, road rage, impulsive violence (even against friends and loved ones) and other events that may cost them a night in jail or worse. This has an effect on the life of the person exhibiting this consistent anger.

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