Why You Can’t Remember What Happens When You Drink Too Much

Why You Can’t Remember What Happens When You Drink Too MuchAccording to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) alcohol causes difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times and impaired memory. While some of these effects are short-term and resolve when the alcohol is no longer in the body, long-term alcohol use can impact the brain even after an extended period of sobriety.

Types of Memory Loss

While forgetting where you put your car keys is a memory lapse, alcohol abuse causes three different types, including the following:

  • Brownouts are caused by heavy drinking and are characterized by forgetting periods of time when you are drinking. This is the most common type of memory loss from alcohol abuse where drinkers can recall memories when sober later.
  • Blackouts are also caused by heavy drinking and are characterized by the inability to form long-term memories. Drinkers are totally unable to recall what took place during these periods. Frequent blackouts can lead to brain cell and nerve damage which can lead to permanent memory loss.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a combination of two separate conditions in alcoholics that is characterized by damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Memory and problem-solving abilities are also impaired.

The common variable in these different types of memory loss is heavy drinking.

Memory Lapses and Blackouts

To fully understand the scope of memory lapses and blackouts, the following facts can give you a clearer perspective:

  • Even with just a few drinks, alcohol can impair memory, so the more you drink the more impaired your memory becomes
  • Blackouts often occur when large quantities of alcohol are consumed quickly on an empty stomach
  • Equal numbers of men and women reported experiencing blackouts
  • In an NIAAA-sponsored survey, 51% of the college undergraduates involved in the study reported blacking out at some point in their lives, and 40 percent reported experiencing a blackout within the previous year
  • Respondents also found out from peers that during their blackout they participated in a wide range of potentially dangerous events they could not remember, including vandalism, unprotected sex and driving

No one knows what the threshold is that turns alcohol consumption into a brownout or blackout, but the consequences of experiencing a memory loss could impact the rest of your life.

Help for Alcoholism

Because alcohol affects the brain so extensively, choosing a treatment plan for alcohol treatment requires a thorough investigation. You need to understand all of the options, the costs associated with those options and how much you can rely on insurance to pay for your treatment. We can provide you with this information, so please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our counselors want to you to get the help you need to make a good decision.