What does it mean to Blackout While Drinking
A blackout involves memory loss due to alcohol or drug abuse. It is most common with drinking too much alcohol. Blacking out from drinking is specifically associated with binge drinking; typically, the condition is induced when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.15. For comparison, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08 in nearly every state in the US.
What is a Blackout?
What does it mean when someone says that they were so drunk the night before that they “blacked out?” Blacking out is a period of alcohol-induced amnesia during which an intoxicated person actively engages in behaviors like walking or talking but doesn’t remember doing so. Blackouts are most commonly caused by a rapid increase in blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, resulting in a temporary loss of memory. People normally experience a blackout when their BAC reaches around .14%, or .14 (point one four) which is almost twice the legal limit. In addition to blacking out, an individual can also suffer from milder alcohol-induced memory impairments, called “brownouts” or “grayouts.”
It’s important to note that blacking out is different than passing out, as the person is fully conscious when blacked out. In fact, anything a person can do when they are drunk, they can do while blacked out – they just simply won’t remember it the next day. However, during a blackout, a person will be able to remember events that happened before their BAC reached very high levels. This allows people that are blacked out to carry on conversations and recall stories from earlier in the evening while they were intoxicated.
Blackouts vs. Passing Out
A blackout is not the same as “passing out,” which means either falling asleep or losing consciousness from excessive alcohol consumption.
During a blackout, a person is still awake but their brain is not creating new memories. Depending on how much the person drank, it is possible to transition from having a blackout to passing out.
Finding Her Identity
Megan grew up in a small town and her identity was closely tied to her being an athlete. She loved dancing swimming, playing basketball, and she was good at them. Which is why it was so hard for her when she was in a car accident at 13 and broke her back.
The friends that she had grown up with, now had nothing in common with her and she was forced to redefine herself.
“My first drink was in 8th grade but it didn’t really get crazy until freshman year,” Megan said.
She does attribute her addiction to anything specific, she thought it was a normal thing for people to do in small towns. On the weekends they would grab a keg and head out into the woods and party.
“I think what wasn’t normal was that I was the last one up at every party, the drunkest girl there, the girl on the keg doing keg stands. It was the way I drank that wasn’t normal, everyone partied but not everyone drank to get annihilated when they’re 15.”
Addiction at Bay – Until it’s Not
Megan got married and had her first child at 22, she feels that being a mother and a wife helped her.
“I think having my oldest son at such a young age, I had that to kind of keep my addiction in check for a little while.”
At 26 she had her second son; She was a housewife and stay at home mom.
Her husband filed for divorce and didn’t tell her. She was unaware that it was happening until she was severed with divorce papers.
At this point, he had filed for full custody and was using her past and lack of financial stability against her to get it.
“My disease in my head said ‘You can finally drink how we’ve always wanted you to drink.’”
She lost the house, the car, her kids and her husband.
“It was off to the races after that … I didn’t have anything hiding – [nothing] to hold me down anymore.”
Her ex-husband noticed her addiction progressing, while she was still seeing her sons every weekend, still volunteering like she always had – They had been together for 16 years and he could tell that her drinking had taken a turn.
It was at this point that he told her that until she got help, he would not be letting her see the boys.
It took her three very dark months before she decided to get help. During that time, she was drinking herself into a blackout every night and had become very suicidal.
It was during this time that she also started having physical symptoms from drinking; She woke up sweating and shaking and couldn’t eat unless she was drinking.
“I knew for a while before I said it out loud … That something needed to change in my life.”
Megan started by Googling “sober living for woman” she believed that all she really needed was to live in a sober house, that she didn’t actually need treatment.
The first place she called turned out to be a 90-day treatment facility, thinking that it wasn’t really what she needed she turned away from that facility.
Her family was incredibly supportive of her getting help and after talking with them for about two weeks she decided to go into treatment.
She stayed there for 6 and a half months.
“Treatment was very intense … It was very emotional dealing with legal reproductions and just the demons that I had drank away for 16 years.”
All in all, Megan found treatment enlightening. She was able to figure out who she is as a person, as a mother and as a sister.
Throughout her treatment and in her recovery her family has been a strong support system for Megan. He sister entered treatment 16 days after she did and they have been making the journey together.
Her family has come around to trusting her again and she’s very close with them.
She spends a lot of time with her nieces, and has seen them flourish with her and her sister, their mother, being sober.
Megan is two years sober and is still fighting to see her children.
“There’s been multiple dates set for me to see my children and he’ll file a new motion and gets everything suspended.”
Her husband is remarried, and knowing that there’s another woman in her kid’s lives is difficult for her.
“I take that one day at a time, just like I do my recovery … Otherwise, I’ll get really overwhelmed and I would be able to deal with it. It may sound cliché and cheesy but I pray a lot.”
Megan’s spirituality, and the women she’s met in recovery have helped her get through those tough times.
“And I talk about it. Whereas my whole life [emotions] just got bottled up, and I drank a bottle down.”
One of Megan’s favorite pieces of advice that her sponsor gave her was that it is okay to have a bad day, you can be mad or upset, those are human emotions. You just can’t unpack and stay there.