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Teen Alcohol Blackouts
Teen alcohol blackouts are just one of the effects that teenage drinking can have on a teens life. Teenagers often play drinking games which includes massive amounts of alcohol in a short time. This article discusses two types of teen blackouts associated with binge drinking.
It has long been known that alcohol has very real effects on the person consuming it. Indeed, numerous studies show alcohol damages memory and brain function. Short term, this may mean that coordination and judgment are affected. In the long term, alcohol can damage memory and kill large amounts of brain cells. This is in addition to the physical damage to heart, liver and other organs that alcohol perpetrates.
One of the ways that alcohol can affect memory is through a blackout. Teen alcohol blackouts should not be confused with merely passing out. When passing out, alcohol causes a teenager to lose consciousness. In a blackout situation, the teen may not actually lose consciousness. A blackout is when memories during the time of alcohol consumption are lost. Or, perhaps, the alcohol prevents memories from being recorded.
Teen alcohol blackouts can result in teenagers losing track of what has happened to them at the time. Studies have tried to pinpoint exactly why blackouts appear, but in some cases how they happen are still a little mysterious. It seems, though, that the speed at which alcohol is consumed has more to do with the likelihood of a blackout than the amount consumed. For instance, teens that drink rapidly, raising their blood alcohol at a quick pace, are more likely to have their memories interrupted, even though some may drink more at a time, but do so slowly. There is also some indication that alcoholism can increase the incidence of blackouts, as well as genetic predisposition and exposure to alcohol while in the womb.
Types of teen alcohol blackouts
There are actually two different kinds of teen alcohol blackouts: en bloc and fragmentary. Each of these types of teen alcohol blackouts work differently:
En bloc: When someone is subject to en bloc teen alcohol blackouts, he or she is unable to remember anything from the period of intoxication. Even being reminded of events doesn’t provide the proper frame of reference for someone with an en bloc blackout. Interestingly, though, it is possible for someone to remember the most recent two minutes while this is happening. Therefore, someone who is intoxicated can carry on a conversation. But that conversation is not actually remembered later. On top of that, it is possible for someone in this mode of blackout can also do any number of tasks and not remember later. Most of the time, the period of blackout cannot be accurately determined, since the passing out phase of drunkenness often occurs before the period of blackout ends.
Fragmentary: Unlike the en bloc teen alcohol blackout, in which a whole chunk of time is completely erased from memory, a fragmentary blackout allows for some recall. Those who are subject to these remember some things that happened during the period that they were intoxicated. However, there are gaps in the memory, leaving periods of time blank, so that a teenager with this type of teen alcohol blackout may still not remember everything that went on. Sometimes, the memories come back with prompting. This type of blackout is also sometimes called a “brownout.” It is more common than an en bloc blackout.
Dangers of blacking out
There are dangers associated with teen alcohol blackouts. Because teen alcohol blackouts are generally accompanied by passing out, there is the danger that vomiting unconsciously can result in someone choking on (or even drowning in) the fluids. Another concern is what can happen during this time period. Teen girls may not remember sex, and as a result be rather unpleasantly surprised when they find themselves with an planned pregnancy. The combination of lower inhibitions, poor judgment and memory loss can lead to dangerous and unexpected situations.
Another issue is the long term damage binge drinking and alcoholism can do to the body and to the brain. Frequent teen blackouts can be a sign that dangerous levels of alcohol are being consumed. This can impact a teen’s ability to learn, as well as damage performance in athletics, music and dance, and even at an after school job. And, of course, it is important to remember that underage drinking is illegal, and can result in arrest.
It is important to explain to teenagers the dangers of consuming alcohol and blacking out. There are risks involved with drinking, and teenagers should be encouraged to make responsible decisions and avoid alcohol consumption.
Related Article: Binge Drinking >>