Truth About Blacking Out

You never want to black out. Blacking out leads to drunk text messages, phone calls to your ex, and let’s not forget the embarrassing photo of you that ends up on the club’s Instagram. But blacking out is more than just embarrassing; it also means alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning takes a critical toll on your body’s system and brain. I repeat: This is not a drill, this is an emergency. Seek help from a medical professional immediately if you think you think you see someone succumbing to alcohol poisoning.

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WHAT IS ALCOHOL POISONING?

You can get this potentially fatal condition by overdosing on alcohol. Throwing up is a common symptom of alcohol poisoning. Yes, if you throw up whenever you’re drinking, even if it is just one shot, you have alcohol poisoning. “When alcohol poisoning occurs there is so much alcohol in the blood that the areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions such as breathing, heart rate and temperature control begin to shut down,” said Dr. Irene Alexandraki, MD, MPH and Internal Medicine Physician. If you manage to survive through the night, an alcohol overdose can still lead to irreparable brain damage.

WHAT DOES DO TO BLACKING OUT YOUR BODY?

In general, alcohol creates memory impairments. Period, end of story. Dr. Alexandraki said,

“A blackout is memory loss induced by alcohol.”

She went on to explain blackouts occur because of the alcohol’s role in blocking short term memory. In short, to make long term memories, the memory must first go through short term memory. Alcohol prevents the short term memory from storing properly and poof! You lose your memories.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLACKING OUT AND PASSING OUT?

Yes, very much so. People who black out still retain consciousness, but they may only be able to recall partial memories. “Brown outs,” as some college students call it, are partial or fragmentary memory impairments due to alcohol. According to Dr. Alexandraki, complete black outs are called en bloc, meaning one can’t recall anything. Blacking out leaves a person conscious, but they lose all of their memories during that time. Passing out involves a person becoming unconscious.

 WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALCOHOL POISONING?

People with alcohol poisoning may experience seizures and pass out and sometimes, they don’t wake up. Dr. Alexandraki explained, “Someone with alcohol poisoning appears confused, has difficulty to remain conscious, may have seizures, vomiting, trouble breathing, slow heart rate, clammy skin, very low body temperature and dulled responses, such as no gag reflex.” She reminds everyone to be aware that someone who drinks to the point of passing out has no gag reflex and is in danger of choking on their vomit. If no one attends to the person, then the choking can become fatal, causing death by asphyxiation.

 

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WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you notice that a friend is slurring their speech, or exhibits impaired attention, a lack of balance or signs of sleepiness, cut off their alcohol intake. Intervening can prove difficult, but it’s better to be a good friend and seek help. If a friend were in a car accident, you would call an ambulance, and so the same rules apply for blacking out. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait for all syptoms to occur, just go a heath care center. Dr. Alexandraki ended with one last piece of advice: “Cold showers, hot coffee, or walking will not reverse the effects of alcohol overdose and could actually make things worse.”

For many college students, drinking is a staple activity in most weekends, but remember to be smart about it and look out for your friends.

MalaysianStudent.com does not promote underage drinking. Please drink responsibly.

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