Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Addiction and Substance Abuse

Blackouts

01/29/2009

Question:

WHEN I DRINK I DON`T GET A BUZZED FEELING ANYMORE, BUT I WILL NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING AFTER I HAVE HAD 3 TO 4 GLASSES OF WINE. THE NEXT MORNING I`LL ASK MY HUSBAND IF I WAS ACTING DRUNK, HE SAYS I WAS FINE . WHEN THIS HAPPENS I CAN CARRY ON A CONVERSATION,WATCH TV,CLEAN I CAN DO ALL MY USUAL STUFF BUT WILL NOT REMEMBER DOING THEM. CAN A PERSON BLACKOUT WITHOUT GETTING DRUNK?

Answer:

You identify two symptoms that are associated with alcohol consumption:

#1. You state that when you drink you don't get a "buzzed feeling" anymore. What you are describing is called tolerance. This is a condition in which the body becomes accustomed to alcohol so that increasing amounts of alcohol are required to produce the desired effects. Ultimately, the liver is affected, and tolerance will go down. The individual may experience a blackout with progressively smaller amount of alcohol consumption.

#2. You are also describing a blackout. This is an episode of amnesia during which you are capable of participating in every day events that you cannot later remember. This is an alcohol-induced memory impairment. The alcohol impairs the ability to form new memories but does not erase memories that were formed prior to the use of alcohol.

During a blackout, people are able to keep information active in their short-term memory long enough to drive a car or clean the house, and carry on a conversation. However, they are not able to store these memories for long term.

Blackouts are a warning sign that often accompany other signs of alcohol abuse. I highly recommend that you seek an evaluation of your alcohol drinking patterns by a professional.

For more information:

Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Deborah L Hoy, CNS Deborah L Hoy, CNS
Clinical Instructor at the College of Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University

Tom Hartwell Pepper, MD Tom Hartwell Pepper, MD
Formerly:
Medical Director of Ohio State University Addiction
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University