What Actually Happens to Your Body When You Black Out From Drinking Too Much?
Many people have woken up after a night of drinking with a firm resolution in mind: “I’m never drinking again.” Far too often, one drink turns into two and two turns into many more and, eventually, we find ourselves drunk.
When someone is intoxicated, that person loses a lot of the motor skills that he or she possesses when he or she isn’t drunk. Imagine a drunk person trying to read that last sentence — it just wouldn’t sound good. Other than slurred speech, we all know what drunk people look like: They drop glasses, they stumble around, and they often they wind up making regrettable decisions.
Drinking can be fun, sociable, and even healthy. Studies have shown that drinking a glass of wine can be as healthy as an hour at the gym. Additionally, there are ways to healthily drink beer that don’t result in beer guts or bad decisions. Booze in general, though, is something that can oh-so-easily slip out of one’s control if not monitored properly.
When someone drinks too much and doesn’t remember what happened, he or she has experienced a blackout. While there are different underlying factors that influence a blackout, there’s one common theme amongst those experiencing one: A blackout represents a dangerously high level of intoxication. If you don't remember things that happened after going out, you've simply had far too much to drink. Other than losing valuable possessions, embarrassing yourself on the dance floor, and potentially having unprotected sex with a stranger (and let's not even mention the carnage that could occur if you drive a car in that condition), blacking out can lead to much more dire consequences.
Drinking to the point of a blackout can often lead to physical harm or, in the worst cases, death. We’ve done some research behind blackouts and also reached out to some experts in the field of substance abuse in order to help inform readers of what is actually happening during an alcohol-induced blackout.
Jay Woody, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer of Legacy ER & Urgent Care, helped us learn more about blacking out, and Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), a specialist in substance abuse, warns against the potentially deadly outcomes of over consumption.
If someone is “in a blackout, they can easily have reached the point of alcohol poisoning,” says Dr. Martinez. “When someone does, they can choke on their own vomit, [and] if they have mixed with medication, their central nervous system can slow their respiration so much they stop breathing.” Click ahead to see more true and horrifying facts on blacking out.