Drinking to the point of alcohol blackout is never a good sign. Most people who drink alcohol never drink to the point of blacking out. They have a drink or two with dinner or while out with friends then call it a day. Those who experience blackouts on a regular basis need to look at and consider the role alcohol plays in their lives.

Blackouts can be frightening experiences at first. Before you fully realize the effects of heavy drinking, it’s jarring the first few times you wake up with no recollection of the night before. They might be a normal occurrence depending on the people you drink with, though, so some quickly forget the fear. Some don’t even realize that blackouts don’t happen to normal drinkers.

Alcohol blackout is just one of the dangerous effects of binge drinking. What causes these alcohol-induced blackouts and what else might happen? Continue reading to learn more about the causes of blacking out and what that might mean for you.

What Causes an Alcohol Blackout?

No matter how many cool commercials you see on TV, alcohol is still a toxic substance for your body. Heavy drinking leads to both serious short- and long-term consequences. Alcohol affects nearly your entire body in various ways, from your balance to your inhibitions to your ability to form and retain memories.


Alcohol blackout refers to the periods of time when a person drinks to the point that their brain stops forming new memories. These blackouts range in length depending on how much and how long they drink for. Some people have blackouts that last entire nights or multiple days when they continue drinking through it.

Blackouts happen as a result of binge drinking, or a pattern of fast, heavy drinking that quickly raises blood alcohol levels past the legal limit of 0.08. This usually happens after 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women over the course of two hours. It’s easy for some to reach the point of binge drinking during a night out at the bar with friends if they aren’t paying close attention.

How Common is Binge Drinking?

Drinking is deeply embedded in society today. People go out for drinks after work or meet for drinks with friends in the evening. Restaurants advertise beer or wine pairings with many of their entrees. Commercials for big-name beer and liquor companies flash across the television screen every time you sit down.

Research reflects the results of how bombarded people are by alcohol today. Despite its prevalence, though, most people still drink at normal levels. 86.4 percent of people ages 18 and older have tried alcohol at least once in their life. 70.1 percent of that age group had a drink in the last year and 56 percent had at least one in the last month.

While the majority of people who drink don’t experience alcohol blackout, binge drinking is still more common than you might think. 26.9 percent of those ages 18 and older reported at least one episode of binge drinking in the past month. To take it further, 7 percent of people reported heavy drinking in the last month, meaning 5 or more binge-drinking episodes.

Side Effects of Binge Drinking

Numerous effects result from binge drinking episodes. They range from short-term to long-term impact depending on how much someone drinks and how often they binge drink.

Short-term side effects of alcohol use include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Impaired decision-making abilities
  • Difficulties with coordination and motor skills
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Alcohol blackout

Binge drinking might seem like fun at the time but it skyrockets your chances of hurting yourself or someone else. When you drink to the point of blacking out you put yourself in an even more dangerous situation. You won’t remember where you went, who you were with, or what happened. This can easily lead to placing yourself in harm’s way.

Side Effect of Bing Drinking Infographic

Avoiding Alcohol Blackout

Researchers still don’t have a full understanding of what exactly causes an alcohol blackout. Clinicians initially believed that alcohol destroys brain cells and that a person’s lost memories resulted from this destruction. More recent studies show that the impact of alcohol actually leads to these memories never forming in the first place.

The amount of alcohol it takes for a person to black out depends on the person. Extensive research shows that men can drink more than women and larger people can drink more than smaller people. Additionally, the type of alcohol you drink, how much food you ate, and whether you’re on medication also have an effect. A well-developed alcohol tolerance plays a role as well.

It’s nearly impossible to state a concrete number of drinks that cause someone to black out. There are too many variables at stake for that to be realistic. But realize that the more you drink, and the faster you drink, both might result in a significant loss of memory for that night.

The easiest way to avoid drinking to the point of blacking out is to be mindful of your alcohol consumption. Limit the number of drinks you have within a certain period of time. Ideally, men should never have more than 2 drinks and women should never have more than 1 drink per day. If you drink more than that, though, avoid drinking to the point of binge drinking.

I came here to get myself better because I was having a serious problem with drinking. I had no more control over my drinking and it was going downhill fast!

Do You Drink Too Much?

Are you regularly drinking to the point of blacking out? Do you wake up in strange places with people you don’t know, or with no idea how you got to where you are? If blackouts are a normal part of drinking for you it might be time to reconsider your drinking.

Alcohol rehab provides help for those trying to get sober but struggling to do so. Facilities like Hawaii Island Recovery offer intensive inpatient and outpatient programs to help people escape the grasp of alcohol abuse.

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