During a blackout, a person loses the ability to form short-term memories. While he or she may continue to act awake and alert, there will be little to no memory of the blackout period. However, consuming large quantities of alcohol will destroy brain cells at a rapid pace. The increased rate of decay will result in quicker symptoms of memory loss and dementia and will affect a person’s overall cognitive functions. A healthy, active lifestyle will keep this brain matter performing at optimal levels. However, introducing heavy alcohol consumption into the equation will quickly destroy both grey and white matter, which can wreak havoc on memory and cognition.
Contact us today to learn about the many different programs and therapies we offer. Our treatment center works by offering individualized treatment to each person seeking addiction recovery. Residential treatment is often most beneficial for someone who is suffering from severe alcoholism.
Remote semantic memory for public figures in HIV infection, alcoholism, and their comorbidity
Alcohol enhances the effects
of benzodiazepines (for a review, see Silvers et al. 2003). Thus, combining
these compounds with alcohol could dramatically increase the likelihood of experiencing
memory impairments. Similarly, the combination of alcohol and THC, the primary
psychoactive compound in marijuana, produces greater memory impairments than
when either drug is given alone (Ciccocioppo et al. 2002). Given that many college
students use other drugs in combination with alcohol (O’Malley and Johnston ), some of the blackouts reported by students may arise from polysubstance
use rather than from alcohol alone. Indeed, based on interviews with 136 heavy–drinking
young adults (mean age 22), Hartzler and Fromme (2003b) concluded that
en bloc blackouts often arise from the combined use of alcohol and other drugs.
In addition, people who drink too much alcohol are often deficient in vitamin B-1, or thiamine. Yet even after memory loss has set in, it’s not necessarily too late to help people hold on to whatever’s left. One neurologist Restak knows had two patients who “weren’t sure where they were or what day it was”, but could still play a decent game of bridge. If someone you love has Alzheimer’s, Restak says, don’t upset them by constantly challenging mistakes or memory lapses; instead, meet them where they are now. Many have mental images they’d rather forget, whether it’s of an embarrassing mistake or a painful failed relationship, or intrusive flashbacks from post-traumatic stress disorder. Memory does vary, he points out, and some people will always have been scatty.
Alcohol and Memory Loss: Understand Blackouts
White and colleagues (2004) observed that, among 50 undergraduate students with
a history of blackouts, only 3 students reported using other drugs during the
night of their most recent blackout, and marijuana was the drug in each case. Finally, long-term heavy drinking can also induce Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a severe cognitive disorder linked sober house to the effects of alcohol on memory. Heavy drinking also may speed up memory loss in early old age, at least in men, according to a 2014 study in the journal Neurology. Although we all lose brain cells as we age, heavy alcohol misuse increases the destruction. As a result, a person may experience earlier symptoms of memory loss and dementia.
What’s considered a heavy drinker?
For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.
This is characterized by a long-standing history of alcohol abuse in high quantities. However, if someone does not have a strong family unit at home to help them in their ability to recover from alcohol addiction, residential treatment might be the best option. This is described as having a spotty memory of events where you can recall certain “islands” of things that occurred, but not really in order, and not a complete timeline.
There are several factors that determine how much alcohol will ultimately damage your brain:
If you’re committed to drinking heavily or for long periods of time, then pacing yourself throughout the day or night will prevent your blood alcohol from rising too quickly. Heavy alcohol use contributes to a shrinkage of the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterized by memory loss. However, studies do not support alcohol as a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
- In addition, Deirdre has experience in caring for young adults, women’s health issues and adolescents with HIV/AIDS.
- « So we also worry about brain damage—and with multiple episodes of heavy drinking, that damage can have long-term consequences for learning and memory. »
- These mistakes can include recalling whether they had completed a task, such as locking the car or switching off the stove or forgetting where they put things.
- Most subjects met diagnostic criteria for alcoholism and half had a history
of frequent blackouts.