Moderation, blackouts and getting back on the wagon
I’ve been wanting to write another post for a few weeks but struggling with where to start and what to write as I’ve got lots to say about different things. More issues than Vogue, I tell ya!
Let’s begin with the drinking in moderation. It’s not gone great, it’s not been disastrous but the occasions where it’s not gone to plan have made me question whether I should get back on the wagon or not. Since 30th December 2018 I’ve drank on 6 occasions with a 50% success rate. Basically, it depends who I’m out with and what the occasion is about. I’ve been for meals with people who don’t really drink and stuck to 2/3 beers or shared a bottle of wine. Then I’ve been ‘out out’ with friends and after a couple I was back to my usual binge drinking self. There was no stopping me no matter how much anyone tried, and they did! What worries me the most is I went into blackout on two occasions. I only know this because my friends have been honest and told me exactly how I was behaving. On one of the occasions I was having memory problems whilst still drunk! Like many people I always understood blacking out to be passing out and that was it, but after doing some research I know that the terms are completely different and blackouts are really quite serious. In reality, we do anything but pass out. In fact, a lot of people will be having blackouts without even realising it, just like I have in the past. For anyone that doesn’t really understand what a blackout is I’ll try my best to explain. Blackout is a general term for a loss of memory, and the most common cause is a rapid increase in blood alcohol levels. Problems forming new memories and blackouts are consequences of a rapid increase in blood alcohol levels and are most often caused by binge drinking. However, the effect of alcohol on memory can vary among different people. Usually, a person’s blood alcohol level must reach almost twice the legal limit to induce a blackout. When sober, memories are formed after sensory input is processed in short-term memory through what is called transfer encoding, then moved through a similar process into long-term memory. When a person remembers something, their brain retrieves the memory from long-term storage and puts it into short-term memory while the individual re-experiences the event.
There are two forms of alcohol induced blackout:-
En block (complete). This involves total memory loss until the body’s blood alcohol level lowers and memory processing returns.
Partial (fragmentary). Which means that the person may not immediately remember what happened, but certain cues can trigger memories to return.
I experienced partial blackout on the two recent occasions I’ve been talking about. There is a huge difference between blacking out and passing out. When a person passes out, they lose consciousness and are in a state similar to being asleep, although they are not likely to respond when being spoken to or touched. When a person blacks out, they can hold conversations, and even continue to drink. They appear to be conscious, but they will not remember what happened. I had full on conversations, was dancing, partying and getting up to other embarrassing stuff and don’t remember a thing. I’m glad I was around people I know and trust. Back in the day I’ve been in similar states when in the city at 3am which is really quite worrying. Blacking out is serious stuff! Some people will put themselves in extremely vulnerable situations as the person may attempt to drive, have sex, or perform other risky behaviors that can lead to permanent harm and even death.
During blackout, a person may be able to remember what happened before their blood alcohol level reached high levels but nothing after that. Women are at greater risk of blacking out than men, and young adults are at greater risk of blacking out compared to older adults. Maybe a reason why so many under 25’s are choosing to cut down on their alcohol consumption?
So, after knowing I went into blackout on at least two occasions, I’ve been having a good think about where I want this moderation/recovery thing to go. As it stands I’ve been sober since 3rd February 2019 and I haven’t really been interested in drinking alcohol. In fact, on the occasions when the opportunity has been there, I’ve gone for the alcohol free option. I know I can drink in moderation but there has to be a lot of thought go into it and I can clearly only be successful at it when in certain company. It’s funny because I still don’t really understand why I want to drink alcohol. I’m not bothered about getting drunk. I don’t even like the feeling of being drunk. I do like the woozy feeling when I’m slightly tipsy and more relaxed so maybe it’s that. I also have a thing about turning 40 in June and not being able to celebrate the milestone ‘properly’.
For now, I’m not going to drink 😊