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Drinking And Blacking Out

Question:

Quite often when I drink any alcohol, I black out and act strange, and have little to no MEMORY OF what happened the next day. Now I am banned from my friend’s building for breaking the glass door in and if I come around again they’ll call the cops on me and have me charged. Yet I only had (at the MOST) 3 hard (8%) beers. Could I be allergic to alcohol or do some people just respond like this? I don’t always black out if I have the same amount of alcohol, and I rather like drinking. I know for sure that I never black out on only 2 strong beers alone. What’s up? Is this physical or psychological in origin, and do you know of any way to prevent it (so that I can still drink but not black out, i.e., : eat dinner beforehand or something)? Thank you. P.S. I do not consider myself an alcoholic. I don’t drink excessive amounts, lie about my drinking or anything like that. Just these black outs are starting to get more “outrageous” and are getting me in trouble! Help!

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Answer:

You don’t want to hear this, but you’ve asked, so I’m gonna tell you. Blacking out while drinking is an absolutely CLASSIC sign of ALCOHOLISM, and not minor alcoholism either, but the big league stuff. You are almost certainly addicted to alcohol in terms of physiological dependence (the formal diagnosis is “Alcohol Dependence”, or “Alcohol Abuse” and yes it is physiological and not just in your head. People with drinking problems can be expected to minimize their use of alcohol when describing it so I take what you are saying with a grain of salt figuring it is an underestimate of what you actually consumed. Even going with your statement of “3 hard (8%) beers”, this is the equivalent of a six pack of American beers, or six drinks, which is enough to make even a large man who doesn’t drink on a regular basis drunk. That you consider this to be a minimal amount suggests that you have built up a fairly considerable tolerance to alcohol and that you need a lot of it to feel its effects. This is all consistent with the idea that you are alcohol dependent. You are also minimizing your potential for violence when drunk (denial being a classic sign as well). You must have busted up your friend’s place pretty good for them to want to ban you. All in all, it’s more likely that the next Pope will be a woman than than you not being accurately described as an alcoholic.

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p> You may not know this, but the majority of alcoholics are not slobbering bums sleeping on the street with a paper-bag-clad bottle in hand. The vast majority of alcoholics are people like you. Decent working people from good enough homes. People with families. People you wouldn’t expect. You’re in good company whether you know it or not.

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p> You may be saying to yourself, “I’m not an alcoholic. I can quit any time”. This is true for most real alcoholics. They can quit any time. They just can’t stay quit for any length of time, and they can’t (or won’t) consume in moderation (e.g., limiting themselves to one drink only each day).

<

p> Do the responsible thing if you can, which is to get help for yourself so that you are not a danger to yourself or others. Getting help means:

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ul>

  • Seeking out a detox facility and getting yourself sober. Going cold turkey is not recommended when someone is addicted to alcohol. You put yourself at risk of severe seizures and possibly even death if you try to come off alcohol too fast.
  • Getting involved in Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Go to a meeting. Get yourself a sponsor. Some people are too proud to go to AA. Others are concerned about AA being a religion and avoid it for that reason. These are mistakes I think. It is true that not all meetings are good for all people, however. If your first meeting doesn’t work for you, try another one.
  • If you have the resources, find a therapist who works with substance abuse and go see him or her. It is important to have support if you are to beat your addiction.

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