You May Think It’s Fun to Black Out from Drinking—But Here’s What It Means for Your Health
In a new survey, almost 1 in 10 guys said blacking out was a sign of a good night
Most guys look back on their college days fondly, even if all they recall is a blur of beer pong and $3 shooters—but a new study shows that almost one in ten men might be recreating their glory days a little bit too hard when drinking in their adult lives.
The study, conducted by Detox.net (a marketing website for American Addiction Centers, so take the results with a grain of salt), asked 1,000 people about their attitudes and habits toward drinking, and found that 10.8 percent of men said blacking out was a sign of a good night.
While playing the morning after memory game may be fun in adolescence, taking repeated whiskey-shots straight to the hippocampus (that’s why you black out, after all) isn’t a sustainable or healthy lifestyle. Even in college, binge drinking— which often causes blackouts—is a deadly epidemic that claims hundreds of lives a year.
With drinking, the blackout itself isn’t what hurts you. Think of memory loss as more of a litmus test for how badly you’re poisoning your body; since memory loss usually only happens at relatively high blood alcohol concentrations, it’s a good bet that if you’re blacked out, you’ll be paying the price the next day. Men’s Health found in September that binge drinking carries a whole host of physiological risks, including clogged arteries, and that the gnarly after-effects just get worse and worse as a binge goes on. That means a heavy night of drinking could make it easier for you to black out the next night as well, so be careful when that ball gets rolling.
The science of blackouts—as well as hangovers—is still a bit murky. Duke researchers told Men’s Health in 2011 that the phenomenon may be linked to low levels of zinc. Heavy drinking can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb zinc, which in turn can impair memory forming in the hippocampus region of the brain. Most blackouts aren’t total, however, they’re fragmentary, which most researchers and people refer to as a “brownout.” In a brownout, you have gaps in your memory, but some parts can come back to you with prompting from others, like those morning-after conversations at the diner or dorm room.
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