The science (and art…lessness) of the Blackout

16 Sep

6:29 pm

I was in H&M the other day and overheard this early 20s kid say he’d never had a blackout. His friend saved my day by quickly snapping back, Well, your time is coming.

What are blackouts? And, why are they generally speaking so horrible for everyone? It’s like, almost everyone I’ve known or read about who’s had a blackout has experienced some kind of insane, irrational anger. Rage, is more like it. Coupled with confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and fear, in no particular order. I get that all these latter things come with deep-seated parts of the brain literally being put to bed with extreme amounts of ethanol. BUT, why does the anger come out? Why do normally happy people not only let down their guard and get pissy, they typically become raging, sometimes violent, while blacked out?

Ahem. I’m one of those ragers. I literally turn into one big angry cunt. Who has no rational brain cells working. Why is this? And, am I the angry bird, or is it the booze making me angry? Or, does the booze simply open up the spout that’s always turned off, in a way that makes it rush too much and distorts it? Or, does the booze exacerbate the anger, and make it irrational? Is my fear and anger over many big and small things being amplified by the booze? Or, is that level of anger inside me all the time, just waiting to come out?

I think the booze exacerbates and makes irrational what resides within. Sometimes. Other times, I really don’t know where that level of vitriol, that extreme hatred even, comes from.

I need to find some clinical readings on this topic. It’s been driving me insane for years. Is it me, am I that fucked up? Or, is it the booze? And, WHY does booze do this? Where did that illustrious “all-knowing” being who created humans go wrong? How could he/she/it NOT make sure to put in some fail-safe to avoid me becoming a wino (or depressed and obsessive in the first place, for that matter)? And, once that was breached, how could it possibly have created beings who are capable of such horrific, and irrational, emotions — anger being one — when overloaded on booze? One BIG hit against the god theory and in favor of evolution (which, in case you haven’t noticed, I am) — we were NOT “created” without flaws. Maybe, over time, once the human race has gotten used to consuming alcohol, we’ll become immune to blackouts. But, what about the anger? Why will the “angry drunk” just not die?

And, most interesting to me, WHY IS IT ALWAYS ANGER that is stimulated to come out when we’re blacked out? Is that our primal shutting-down state of mind: confusion, fear, anxiety, and anger? Why is this?

4 Responses to “The science (and art…lessness) of the Blackout”

  1. David September 17, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Love your blog title! I was checking out unpickled and saw your comment – had to come here just because of your name. This post intrigues me, mainly because I can’t relate. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve turned into an angry drunk. I’m 47 and have been drunk more than 5 times. A lot more. I’ve blacked out more than 5 times too. I’ve blacked out a lot. I mean, a whole lot. And I don’t get angry. Which seems weird, ’cause I don’t feel like Mr. Happy. But drinking makes me happy, even though I feel like I need to reign it in. Is it true that most blackouts result in anger? I’m asking sincerely. Because if that’s so, then maybe I’m doing better than I thought.

    Good luck with your efforts!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl September 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      Hi, David,
      I’m not sure how blackouts work and I have no idea if “most” people get angry/agro. The only things that have happened to me are blacking out and passing out (calm, nothing happens), or blacking out and getting agitated/angry/bad. I have never blacked out and gotten happier! This is why I wish I could get my hands on some actual clinical research — time to hit up PubMed.

      I would also say that, if you’re blacking out that much, there are *numerous* reasons you’d want to reign in your drinking (amount and pace)! For me, and I’ve read this happens for the majority, your blackouts come easier and with less booze, the more you have them. I started blacking out at 30, and I never had horrible times during them. Now (I’m 38), I never don’t. I used to be able to drink oh, let’s say two whole bottles of wine (beer and shots are a different story) and not black out. Now, I almost always black out after a bottle. I “feel” like my brain has become looser, in protecting me from blacking out. I would also read up on blacking out, because from what I’ve read, I can’t imagine that they’re healthy to keep having, on a neurological level! Thanks for reading, and best to you, too… -DDG

  2. Eddie September 20, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    I used to blackout every time that I drank…the way I acted varied but the result was pretty much the same. I never remembered what happened, had to be reminded, and regretted what had happened. I needed up getting sober when I was deep into my drinking because I was tired of all of the consequences I experienced because of my drinking and the way that I felt on a daily basis. I got help from a place called New Life House. Check out their site if you are looking for help. New Life House – A Structured Sober Living.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl September 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Hi, Eddie,
      Thanks for your comment! Yup, I feel you on getting tired of feeling that way! I will check out your link — thank you.

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