Psychogenic Blackouts: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment Options

How much alcohol or substance use is needed to cause a blackout varies based on a person’s height, weight, sensitivity and assigned sex at birth. Understanding these definitions and the difference between blackouts and passing out is incredibly important, as it may be difficult for other people to recognize someone is having a blackout because of their seemingly aware state. Excessive alcohol use isn’t the only thing that can cause blackouts or brownouts. Substance misuse on its own or with alcohol can increase your likelihood of experiencing a blackout. Hypnotics or sedatives and benzodiazepines like flunitrazepam (also known as Rohypnol or roofies) can also lead to blackouts or brownouts. Agape Treatment Center for substance abuse embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.

  • People with PTSD may also experience sudden and sometimes hyper-realistic memories of the traumatic event, which can be very distressing.
  • The VA estimates that 11-20% of the veterans deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan may have PTSD.
  • The nation’s specialized psychiatry and addiction treatment facilities are concentrated in the major cities and serve patients from across the country.
  • All three substances are depressants, so the opioids and the benzos are enhanced by alcohol which increases the risk of overdose.
  • During en bloc blackouts, what most people refer to as being blacked out, someone can’t remember anything after a specific period of time.

During a blackout, the individual cannot recall events that occurred while intoxicated. If experienced with any regularity, alcohol blackouts can also be a strong indicator of a potential alcohol use disorder. We’re going to take a deeper look at these alcohol blackouts, what causes them, and what they could mean for your physical and mental health. As psychopathology has been shown to be a risk factor for emotion dysregulation, individuals with PTSD may demonstrate poorer emotion regulation (Gross & Munoz, 1995).

Participants and Procedure

Individual, group, and family therapy can all be valuable recovery tools, as well. Some who suffer from PTSD may drink alcohol with hopes of eliminating bad dreams or reducing the horrifying elements of their nightmares. But alcohol fails to address the root cause of bad dreams and can lead to prolonged symptoms of PTSD.

If multiple people report similar details, intoxicated or not intoxicated, then their testimonies will be given more weight. Because in general, DeCarlo said, a single intoxicated witness cannot stand alone to convict someone of a crime. Corroboration from other witnesses or physical evidence are essential in these cases, though often difficult to obtain.

Effects of Alcohol on Memory

We do know that women are more likely to experience other effects of alcohol, such as liver cirrhosis, heart damage, nerve damage and other diseases caused by alcohol. Studies also suggest that prenatal exposure to alcohol increases a person’s chance of experiencing blackouts in the future, and certain genes may increase a person’s likelihood to black out. However, scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine found in a 2011 study that alcohol didn’t kill brain cells. Instead, they found that alcohol interfered with receptors in the brain, making them produce steroids that interrupted the learning and memory-building process. A blackout is a loss of the ability to make memories, but people are still conscious when they’re blackout drunk. The speed with which short-term memory is formed depends on the amount of theta rhythm (7-13 Hertz) organizing the hippocampus.

ptsd alcohol blackout

When alcohol consumption reaches a certain level, our brain loses the ability to form new memories. When a person passes out, they lose consciousness are in a state similar to being asleep, although they are not likely to Selecting the Most Suitable Sober House for Addiction Recovery respond to stimuli like being spoken to or touched. When a person blacks out, they make decisions, hold conversations, and even continue to drink. They appear to be conscious, but they will not remember what happened.

Alcohol And PTSD

The expected aberrations in neuroimmune functioning may not be found when examined in a sample with multiple psychiatric morbidities. As a veteran, getting help for addiction and mental health issues is tough. Civilian alcohol rehabs may not be able to provide support for your unique experience.

Can PTSD cause black and white thinking?

Black-and-white thinking is common to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you are traumatized, especially repeatedly like in complex PTSD, you begin to believe that life is all good or all bad.

Thankfully, however, getting sober for good becomes much easier with support from other veterans. If a person builds a tolerance to alcohol and blacks out often from drinking, this can be harmful. They may show symptoms that mimic memory loss with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Binge drinking — consuming numerous drinks in a short period— is more likely to cause alcohol blackouts, amnesia and memory loss than slow, heavy drinking, according to numerous studies. According to statistics, men are exposed to a higher number of traumatic events than women, such as combat threats and life-threatening accidents and also consume more alcohol than women. Women, however, are twice as likely to develop PTSD and are 2.4 times more likely to struggle with alcoholism as a result. Women are also more likely to experience  a number of deeply impactful traumatic events such as rape and sexual abuse and often turn to alcohol to cope. Some studies suggest that alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of the development of PTSD in women, due to the increased likelihood of  exposure of traumatic events that occurs as a result of alcohol abuse.

  • Passing out can be harmful if a person falls and experiences an injury.
  • They may also have trouble sleeping, either due to nightmares or intrusive thoughts.
  • Our alcohol rehab in San Diego can give you the tools you need to live up to your full potential.
  • We often talk about our biological response to a threat or stressor as our fight-or-flight response.
  • When a person passes out, they lose consciousness are in a state similar to being asleep, although they are not likely to respond to stimuli like being spoken to or touched.
  • Partial or fragmentary blackouts occur the same way as complete blackouts but have different results.

The difference with a blackout is that, not only are there no pictures in the camera, but your mind has absolutely no memory of having taken the pictures. Twin studies show that if one twin is prone to blackouts, the other is much more likely to also be prone if they are identical, rather than fraternal. Identical twins share 100 percent of their DNA, while fraternal twins only share 50 percent. We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery. There is no obligation to enter treatment and you can opt out at any time.


Forty-one participants (30%) had experienced symptoms of all three clusters. You could be having a blackout and seem completely coherent to others around you. A common experience after having a blackout is hearing stories about your behavior and having absolutely no recollection of it ever occurring.

What can worsen PTSD?

Seeing a person, thing, or place related to the trauma can trigger a reaction. Likewise, seeing a similar trauma on the news or in a movie can set off symptoms. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, scents, situations, sounds, and tastes can all trigger PTSD again.