“Blackout or Backout!” I still remember hearing (and repeating that) at various college parties and events. At the time, it was our way of rebelling – at a small,private, dry Christian College this was the way those of us who didn’t fit in came together. During college, that was my party motto and I always chose blackout over backout.
For those of you who have never blacked out, there are two types of blackouts: en bloc (complete and total memory loss) and fragmentary. When someone blacks out, it can often be hard to tell. They can carry on conversations and act as if they are just slightly intoxicated – they just aren’t able to form new memories. For more information on alcohol related blackouts, click here.
I remember the night I first blacked out – I had gone on a blind date, which turned into a group date with my friends and we went to the Mellow Mushroom. The date was a train wreck, but the calzones were amazing. When we got back to campus we started drinking pretty heavily, joking about the awkwardness of the night and how delicious the calzones were. The last think I remember is sitting on a couch in the coffee shop and them being back in my room, completely wet. It turns out we walked through the rain so I could go back and heat up my left over calzone. To this day, I still do not remember what actually transpired.
That was the first time I blacked out, but not the last. During college I would experience blackouts every few weeks, when I went a little too hard or had something to celebrate. At that time, they were the exception, not the norm and I thought it was fun trying to piece together the night. Nothing too embarrassing or dangerous occurred so there was no need for me to change my behavior.
As my drinking progressed, my blackouts became more and more frequent. For most of college they resulting in funny stories of what I did the night before and it seemed like most of my friends experienced the occasional blackout. Even though it happened to me more frequently than everyone else, I chalked it up to being in college. However, the blackouts continued after graduation and occurred almost every time I went out and they became more dangerous. One night, I went out in SouthEnd with a friend from college and I woke up outside of her apartment, covered in blood and mud without my cell phone. This was just one of many nights I experienced after college.
Still I thought that this was a normal life and everyone blacked out. It wasn’t until I began to think I had a problem that I asked my one of my best friends how often he blacked out and he told me he had never experienced. I realized that blacking out frequently is not the norm.