Young women black out more often than men when drinking
By Jessie Tu
February 8, 2021
AUSTRALIA – “A blackout is a general term for memory loss, and can be an indicator for later negative health consequences. Whilst we know quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption in adolescence are indicators of clinically relevant alcohol problems, we must also consider escalating blackouts as part of a risk factor assessment by clinicians.”
Yuen wants to see new measures put into place to ensure young people are educated about the risks of alcohol-related blackouts.
“Prevention and intervention strategies targeting alcohol-induced blackouts may reduce the risk of future alcohol problems and may also reduce injury and associated healthcare costs,” she said.
“Schools should consider educating students and caregivers about the biological risk factors for blackouts, in addition to blackouts themselves being a risk factor for future harm.”
Writing in The Conversation, Yuen and her colleague, Amy Peacock, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of NSW, explained that despite the name, “… someone who’s having an alcohol blackout is not unconscious.”
“They can continue to do things such as talking and walking, but afterwards they can’t remember what they did while they were drunk. In other words, alcohol can temporarily stop your brain from forming long-term memories.”
On its website, the Ministry of Health describes the effects of excess drinking as behaviour that “…can result in confusion, blurred vision, poor muscle control, nausea, vomiting, sleep, coma or even death.”
“It can also impair a person’s judgement and decision-making ability, which can increase the risk that they may do silly things and put themselves in dangerous situations.”
Blackouts are more likely to occur when a drinker consumes a high volume of liquid, often by “chugging” drinks or drinking on an empty stomach.
According to the study, those who experienced blackouts during adolescence are two and a half times more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life.
The authors of the research add that alcohol affects individuals differently, so the number of drinks it takes to bring about a blackout changes between persons.
Though despite these variations, an alcohol-related blackout is usually triggered when an individual has a blood-alcohol concentration of roughly .15 or higher — three times over the legal driving limit in Australia.