Is it More Common to Blackout After Drinking Hard Alcohol or Beer?

Is it More Common to Blackout After Drinking Hard Alcohol or Beer

Drinking too much alcohol in a short period can cause significant short and long-term harm to your health and well-being–and even put you at risk for a deadly overdose. As the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream rises, you may experience a blackout–a temporary condition affecting your memory. During a blackout, you may still be able to talk, walk, and perform many complex activities–but you will have no awareness or memory of them when you are sober.

A blackout can be a hazardous event and signifies a dangerously high blood alcohol content (BAC). If you experience a blackout, it may be a sign that you have unhealthy drinking behaviors or an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Understanding how blackouts occur and how to prevent them is essential. This article will explore what happens to your body during a blackout, whether it is more common to blackout after drinking hard alcohol or beer, and steps you can take to prevent a blackout from occurring.

If you or someone in your life lives with alcohol abuse or addiction and needs help, you are not alone. Reach out to the dedicated team at Moving Mountains Recovery now to learn about our alcohol use disorder treatment programs or to schedule an intake assessment.

What Happens During an Alcohol Blackout?

A blackout can occur when your blood alcohol level (BAC)–the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream–reaches or exceeds 0.22 percent. Research suggests that about half of people with a BAC of 0.22 or more will “blackout,” meaning they experience a lapse in memory.

Other symptoms of a blackout include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired judgment

After experiencing a blackout, it’s common for people to have no memory from the time their BAC was elevated until it reached a lower level.

What Causes an Alcohol Blackout?

Many medical conditions, including low blood pressure, seizures, and oxygen restriction, can cause people to lose consciousness or awareness temporarily. Alcohol blackouts occur when a person consumes enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol level to 0.22 or more. Many people use the term “blackout” to mean the loss of memory associated with heavy drinking.

There is no definite number of alcoholic drinks that can cause a blackout. Many factors affect how your body responds to alcohol and how quickly your BAC rises, including:

  • Weight and body composition
  • Gender
  • Other medications or intoxicating substances used while drinking
  • How quickly you consume alcohol
  • How much you’ve eaten before and while drinking

The type of alcohol you drink also plays a role in how quickly your BAC climbs to a dangerous level.

Hard Alcohol vs. Beer: Which is More Likely to Cause a Blackout?

Typically, people who drink hard alcohol are more likely to experience a blackout than those who drink beer. This is because hard alcohol, like vodka, whiskey, and rum, has a higher alcohol concentration–about 40%.

It’s easy to consume a dangerous amount of alcohol when drinking hard alcohol. People can take shots of hard liquor or add it to mixers, allowing them to drink a lot of alcohol in a short period. People may drink several “drinks” worth of alcohol before feeling the effects.

Beer generally has a much lower alcohol concentration–usually between 3-7%. It contains more water and usually takes longer to drink than a shot or mixed drink. However, people who drink a lot of beer in a short period may still experience a blackout.

The Dangers of an Alcohol Blackout

Regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol can have profound short and long-term effects on your health and well-being. Experiencing a blackout puts you at immediate risk for severe harm and death. People in a blackout can:

  • Cause or be involved in motor vehicle accidents that cause injury or death
  • Harm others through physical violence or accidents
  • Have risky or unwanted sex
  • Be the victim of an assault or other crimes
  • Participate in illegal activity
  • Choke on their own vomit while unconscious
  • Experience alcohol poisoning

The dangers of binge drinking and blackouts are increased when people mix alcohol and other drugs, including sedatives and THC.

How Can I Prevent a Blackout?

A blackout can occur when your blood alcohol content exceeds 0.22. There are some steps you can take to prevent a blackout while drinking, including:

  • Eat a meal before you start drinking, and continue to eat regularly as long as you’re consuming alcohol.
  • Drink slowly–sip, don’t chug. Choose drinks with a lower alcohol concentration, and avoid taking shots of hard alcohol.
  • After every alcoholic beverage you consume, drink a glass of water. This will help you drink less and make sure your BAC doesn’t rise too quickly.

If you discover that it is hard to change your drinking habits or to drink less, your relationship with alcohol may need some attention. As soon as you recognize signs of alcoholism, reach out to a local treatment center or medical professional for support.

Find Support Now

If you or someone you love needs help to overcome alcohol addiction, you are not alone. Contact the caring specialists at Moving Mountains Recovery now to learn about our holistic addiction rehab programs or to find support at any stage of your recovery journey.

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