What Actually Happens When You Black Out

If you’re like 99% of the population, you’ve experienced that horrible sensation of waking up after a night of partying hard and not remembering anything that happened. Or maybe you remember taking a few shots, but everything after that is a blur. Blacking out isn’t just one of the most dangerous things you can do, it’s one of the fastest ways to irreparably destroy your body. The black-out facts assembled here are simply meant to help you understand the frightening experience of an alcohol-induced black out.

Getting black-out drunk isn’t just embarrassing, it’s an unhealthy decision that can have serious consequences. Most people who black out will never kill an entire family or call 911 eight times trying to find their lost car, but it’s important to realize that those things are a possibility. 

  • Something Called "Transient Amnesia"

    Something Called "Transient Amnesia"
    Photo: Tomono / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    When you drink so much that you black out, the alcohol blocks your brain from forming memories. So you're still walking around and doing stuff, but you won't be able to remember any of it. 
  • The Emotions Come On Strong

    The Emotions Come On Strong
    Photo: Lel4nd / Flickr

    Here's a quick science lesson: When you drink alcohol (a depressant), a tiny portion of it seeps into your brain from your bloodstream and covers your cerebral cortex (which is responsible for processing sensory information and thoughts), disrupting the normal flow of neurotransmitters.

    The more you drink, the more your emotions begin to come out, so if you're sad, you get SUPER SAD; and if you're angry, you turn into a homicidal maniac. 

  • Your Blood Alcohol Levels Shoots Through the Roof

    Your Blood Alcohol Levels Shoots Through the Roof
    Photo: Scottish Government / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    Obviously you have to have a pretty high blood alcohol level to get black-out drunk, but that level spikes to somewhere above 0.15, which is twice the legal limit for driving. 
  • The Recorder in Your Brain Shuts Down

    The Recorder in Your Brain Shuts Down
    Photo: YouTube
    Try as hard as you want, but you'll never remember anything that happened when you were black-out drunk. Your best bet is to hire someone to follow you around with a polaroid so you at least have an artist's depiction of what it's like when you lose control. 
  • You Might Start Sleepwalking

    You Might Start Sleepwalking
    Photo: Wikimedia
    When you're black-out drunk you may feel you are sleepwalking already, but even after you get in bed, you won't sleep normally. Some drinkers experience a sensation similar to sleepwalking after they've ingested too much alcohol. 
  • Alcohol Poisoning Is Very Likely

    Alcohol Poisoning Is Very Likely
    Photo: Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc. / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Drinking alcohol is essentially putting a small amount of poison in your body. A small amount just makes you act goofy, but if you drink too much of it, you're going to end up completely destroying your body. In fact, if you're getting black-out drunk you're 70% more likely to end up in the emergency room than someone who's not drinking to excess.