To most young men, hanging out and drinking with friends seems like a perfectly normal thing to do. But binge drinking to the point of blacking out can lead to several short- and long-term health problems.
Is Blacking Out Normal?
Drinking to the point of being blackout drunk is unfortunately common among young people. Half of college students who drink report blacking out in the last year, including 52% of men. Among that group of self-reported binge drinkers, about one in eight had an emergency room visit related to their blackout drinking.
Broken bones and head injuries are just some of the potential dangers of drinking to the point of blacking out. It can also harm your brain, causing problems that could persist later in life. While it is pushed as acceptable, especially among young people, drinking to the point of blacking out is not normal behavior.
What Causes Blackouts?
When you drink more alcohol than your body can adequately process, your blood alcohol level rises. Once it reaches about 0.16 percent, you are in danger of blacking out. This often happens due to binge drinking, or four drinks for women and five for men in about two hours.
You could experience a fragmentary blackout in which parts of time are missing from your memory. You could also experience a total blackout and lose hours of time for which you don’t remember anything you did or said.
These blackouts happen because large amounts of alcohol overwhelm your brain’s ability to function correctly. It blocks the hippocampal region of your brain from moving things between your short- and long-term memory. The result is a series of memory gaps or a complete loss of recall.
Alcohol and Memory
If you continue to drink to the point of blacking out, you could do enough damage to your brain to impair your learning, cognitive skills, and memory due to a condition called alcohol-related dementia. This progressive illness may start with general forgetfulness, but can lead to problems with organizing, planning, and fine motor control.
Alcohol-related dementia and other syndromes caused by long-term drinking don’t just interfere with your memory. They also put you at higher risk for early death. Prolonged binge drinking also causes liver disease, increases your chances of heart attacks, and predisposes you to several types of cancer.
Stop Blacking Out
Drinking to the point of blacking out is dangerous, and it can lead to alcohol use disorder with consequences for your life at school, home, and work. Get help to treat your alcohol use at PACE Recovery Center. We understand the pressures that young men face and why they might turn to alcohol to fit in or deal with their circumstances.
We offer inpatient and outpatient programs using treatments shown to be effective for overcoming alcohol use and mental health problems that lead to dependence. Our patients receive individualized assessments and treatments such as individual and group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and treatments designed to help those whose substance use is tied to mental health challenges. Join a brotherhood of other men who are taking their lives back, too.