I am sure most of us have heard “ I am going to get so blacked out tonight” or “OMG I really blacked out last night” when referring to a wild night out. Being that this is a term tossed around quite often I wanted to look more into it. Yes, I am aware that ‘blacking out’ means ingesting enough of a substance that impairs your memory and makes you completely unable to recall the events from this time. At times, it seems funny. But is it dangerous? How does it effect your brain? What are the long term effects? These are all valid questions that I thought I should look into. My hypothesis throughout my research I have conducted would have to be “If i drink excess amounts, I will always blackout, and there will be long term effects.”
(Picture found here)
While researching a little about the brain here, I found that in respects to alcohol, drinking a large amount will cause an interference within the brain. What happens is alcohol will block the receptors within the brain; more specifically the individuals hippocampus. The hippocampus is most closely associated with long term memory. When the receptors are blocked, additional receptors are stimulated which overall causes the interference of the reaction between these specific neurons. Overall, this disruption deters the ‘long term potentiation’. This is what is used to form memories and activate learning.
Something I found interesting here, was that the term ‘brown out’, is also a valid term. My friends have used the term brown out in past time and I always somewhat mock them because the idea sounds somewhat ridiculous as if there is a colored scale for how incoherent you were the night before. Basically, what I found is there is two types of blackouts. En bloc blackouts are the real deal blackouts. These are the times where you are completely unable to retain memory at this point even if it might seem as though you are completely functioning and able to carry a normal conversation. In a test of time, this type of blackout keeps your recalling ability to about two minutes prior, anything beyond that is lost. The fragmentary blackouts are where the person is able to recall certain events from the night but not all. If their memory is promoted by another person they might begin to recall some information, this would be classified as a “brown out” in lack of a better word.
Now in respects to the long term effects, I found here long term effects do exist. Repeated blackouts can cause issues such as permanent memory damage, impaired brain development and slow learning, acting out in a way that creates issues within behavior, and more significantly brain damage. Now after reading all of this, it seems to suggest that repeated blackouts when drinking hint to risk of alcoholism.
Bottom line, I do think my hypothesis is correct but I think It comes into play within more severe cases. I don’t think the occasional blackout is great for you, but I don’t think it will have any severe effect based on these findings. These drastic effects come to light if an individual suffers from alcoholism.