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What Is Brownout Drunk?

Woman wondering, "What is brownout drunk?"

Most people know what an alcohol-induced blackout is, but what is brownout drunk? Both experiences can be frightening and may indicate the person has an alcohol use disorder or other health concern. If you or someone you care about has frequent blackouts or brownouts, consider getting support from an alcohol addiction treatment program.

Call Vertava Health Ohio at 844.954.1771 and speak to one of our friendly team members about the programs we offer.

Alcohol Brownout vs. Blackout: What’s the Difference?

Both blackouts and brownouts refer to memory loss the day after heavy drinking. In the case of a blackout, memory loss can be complete, almost like a form of amnesia. The person may not remember who they were with or what they said or did while under the influence.

Brownouts describe an experience of partial memory loss. Details of the night before might be hazy or distorted, but some degree of memory is still present.

Blackouts are more significant and can cause more concern to the individual who is experiencing them. However, both occurrences are warning signs of dangerous behavior that could have long-term consequences.

What Causes Alcohol Brownout?

Drinking to excess, drinking quickly (chugging), or drinking on an empty stomach can cause memory impairment.

According to Psychology Today, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .14 to .20% is enough to cause memory loss. However, consuming alcohol quickly makes blood alcohol levels soar and increases the chance of memory impairment.

A fast rise in BAC can have a dramatic impact on the hippocampus — the area of the brain responsible for long-term memory. When the hippocampus gets shocked by a sudden rise in BAC, it can shut down to protect itself.

Once the liver has metabolized the alcohol and cleaned it from the bloodstream, the hippocampus begins working again. Memories from the period when it was not functioning can be fuzzy or completely absent.

Binge drinking (not technically an alcohol use disorder) causes the conditions that lead to brownout or blackout. During the episodes, the intoxicated person continues to function and may even be capable of performing complex tasks.

It may seem harmless or even humorous to some people, but drinking that causes even temporary neurological disruption is something to be concerned about.

Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

An alcohol brownout is not dangerous in itself, but it’s a red flag for alcohol use disorder and other health issues.

To start, heavy drinking affects liver function. While working hard to detox the body from large amounts of alcohol, an overstressed liver can accidentally release harmful elements into the blood, or it can suffer permanent damage.

Other long-term risks of binge drinking include:

  • Stroke
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Gout
  • Permanent neurological damage
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Having a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome

There’s also the concern of accidents or engaging in dangerous behavior while in a brownout or blackout. Waking up the next morning with a serious wound you don’t remember getting could endanger your life.

In addition, experiencing an alcohol brownout isn’t an excuse for breaking the law. You could end up in legal trouble without the clear memory of events needed to defend yourself.

If binge drinking happens frequently for a long period of time, you could develop serious health problems.

Find the Support You Need at Vertava Health Ohio

What is brownout drunk? Simply put, it’s a warning sign. If you have experienced multiple brownout or blackout episodes due to binge or heavy drinking, talk to an addiction expert. You may need a complete health evaluation to rule out any other neurological problems.

Call Vertava Health Ohio today at 844.954.1771 and find out whether your binge drinking is endangering your health.