Blackouts May Be Linked to How a Person Drinks, Not Just How Much

<p>Researchers found that the speed with which college students become intoxicated, how long their intoxication levels are increasing, and their peak intoxication were each associated with experiencing an alcohol-induced blackout.</p>

<p>Researchers analyzed data from an intensive longitudinal study involving 79 college sophomores and juniors who typically drank four or more drinks on a weekend day and had experienced at least one alcohol-induced blackout during the past semester.</p>

<p>The students wore wristwatch-like devices with transdermal alcohol concentration sensors, which measured intoxication levels through the skin on 12 weekend days. The students also completed daily diaries each morning to assess their memories of the prior day.</p>

<h3>70 Percent Experienced Blackouts</h3>

<p>Over the 12-day period, the sensors detected a total of 486 days of alcohol use, and students together reported 147 alcohol-induced blackouts. Seventy percent of the students experienced at least one alcohol-induced blackout, with eighty percent of female students and 70 percent of male students reporting experiencing a blackout. The students who reported at least one blackout had, on average, 2.2 alcohol-induced blackouts during the 12 days.</p>

<p>Days where alcohol concentration rates rose faster, days with higher peak alcohol concentration, and days with longer duration of increasing alcohol concentration each predicted alcohol-induced blackouts. The authors suggested that targeting reductions in any one of these three features may lead to reductions in one or both of the other two features.</p>

<p>Interventions targeting the drinking behaviors associated with these factors may reduce the risk of alcohol-induced blackouts.</p>

<h3>Slow Down Drinking Speed</h3>

<p>Strategies to reduce the speed of alcohol intoxication might include encouraging students to avoid playing drinking games and to alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, which would also work to reduce peak alcohol concentration.</p>

<p>Other interventions include personalized normative feedback, an intervention to dispel false beliefs that an individual's risky behavior is normal, and encouraging people to reduce the overall time spent drinking.</p>

<p>Future studies should examine the effectiveness of interventions on each of these features. While the wrist-worn monitor provides more detail about intoxication than self-report, it may miss lower-intensity drinking days. The morning diaries are subject to memory and may underreport or misreport blackouts.</p>

<h3>Blackouts a Significant Problem</h3>

<p>Alcohol-induced blackouts are a significant problem among college students, with significant consequences. Prior studies have reported that 80 percent of college student drinkers reported at least one, and an average of eight, alcohol-induced blackouts during college. More than three additional consequences, which range from embarrassment to assault, occur on nights when students experience a blackout.</p>

<p>An alcohol-induced blackout is a condition where someone is conscious and engaging with their surroundings but will be unable to remember some or any of what occurred. While in this condition, people are at higher risk for a range of consequences, including violence or sexual assault.</p>

<p><sup><b>Source</b>: Richards, VL, et al. "<a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.15290">Transdermal alcohol concentration features predict alcohol-induced blackouts in college students</a>." <i>Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research</i> 19 April 2024</sup></p>

Alcohol Helps Bacteria Harm the Liver

End-stage liver disease or liver cirrhosis is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and approximately half of these cases are related to alcohol consumption. There's no refuting that alcohol itself harms the liver, but new research in mice and humans published February 10 in Cell Host & Microbe reveals that chronic drinking also promotes the growth of gut bacteria that can travel to the liver and exacerbate liver disease.

Continue reading

Brain Activity Predicts Teen Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking is known to affect teenagers' developing brains, but certain patterns of brain activity may also help predict which kids are at risk of becoming problem drinkers, according to a study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Continue reading

Early Alcohol Use Spells Later Trouble

An early age at first drink (AFD) has been linked to later alcohol-related problems, which is one of the reasons behind the legal drinking age of 21 in the U.S. It is unclear, however, if increased risk is primarily due to initiation of any drinking, or initiation of heavier drinking. A comparison of the influence of these potential risk factors among college undergraduates found that both an early AFD as well as a quick progression from the first drink to drinking to intoxication independently predicted later problems.

Continue reading

Relatives of People with Alcohol Use Disorder Experience Similar Cognitive Weaknesses

Many people with a family history of alcohol use disorder (AUD) struggle with certain cognition issues that often accompany AUD itself, even if they don’t themselves drink dangerously, according to a novel study. The findings suggest that these issues may be markers of vulnerability for the condition. A family history of AUD—having one or more first-degree relatives with the disorder—increases the risk of developing it, owing to genetic and environmental factors.

Continue reading

Women With Alcohol-Related Liver Disease Have Greater Mortality Risk Than Men

Investigators from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and colleagues found that women with fatty liver disease related to alcohol consumption have almost twice the risk of dying within a certain time period than men with the same condition. The findings, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hepatology, highlight the need for women who are at risk of developing liver disease to avoid excess alcohol consumption.

Continue reading

Alcohol Abuse Can Accelerate Aging, Study Finds

The brains and blood of people with a history of excessive drinking show cellular evidence of premature aging. DNA taken from people with alcohol use disorder showed signs of changes in genetic regions indicative of increased biological age. Accelerated biological aging may help explain why excessive alcohol use has been shown to be a significant risk factor for premature death and neurodegenerative diseases.

Continue reading

Alcohol References in Music Can Influence Drinking

At least one in four contemporary songs references alcohol, according to an analysis of multiple studies that hints at the effects of music exposure on listeners’ drinking. Music is nearly ubiquitous in modern life, thanks partly to smartphones and streaming services. A 2022 study found that we listen to (on average) 961 hours of music per year, or 2 hours and 38 minutes per day.

Continue reading

Study Suggests Artificial Intelligence Can Help Identify Patients in Need of Alcohol Treatment

An artificial intelligence-based program efficiently and accurately identified patients’ risky alcohol use by analyzing their health records, according to a study published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research. The artificial intelligence-based natural language processing algorithm accurately identified three times more patients with risky alcohol use compared to diagnostic codes alone.

Continue reading

Nurse-Delivered Alcohol Interventions More Accepted

The U.S. Joint Commission approved new hospital accreditation measures related to alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for all hospitalized patients. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of brief interventions (BIs) or inpatient acceptability of SBIRT when performed by healthcare professionals other than physicians. A new study has found high hospital-patient acceptability of and comfort with nurse-delivered SBIRT.

Continue reading

Ads Play Role in Underage Drinking

Minors who were familiar with television alcohol advertisements were more likely to have tried alcoholic beverages and binge drink than those who could not recall seeing such ads, according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston.

Continue reading

College Campus-Community Interventions Successful

The Safer California Universities study found that the program reduced incidence and likelihood of intoxication at off-campus parties and bars/restaurants. Heavy drinking among college students results in over 1800 deaths each year, as well as 590,000 unintentional injuries, almost 700,000 assaults and more than 97,000 victims of sexual assaults. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers report on the results of the Safer California Universities study, a successful community-wide prevention strategy targeted at off-campus settings.

Continue reading

Heavy Drinkers Have Poor Dietary Habits

Excessive drinking and an unbalanced diet are two preventable contributors to health problems in the developed world. Different studies have found varying linkages between amounts of alcohol consumed and quality of diet. A study of adults in Spain has found that heavy drinking, binge drinking, a preference for spirits, and drinking alcohol at mealtimes were associated with a poor adherence to major food consumption guidelines.

Continue reading

Bariatric Surgery Can Lead to Alcohol Abuse

Among patients who underwent bariatric surgery, there was a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorders in the second year after surgery, and specifically after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, compared with the years immediately before and following surgery, according to a study in JAMA.

Continue reading

How Alcohol Interferes With Sleep

Large amounts of alcohol are known to shorten sleep latency, increase slow-wave sleep, and suppress rapid eye movement (REM) during the first half of sleep. During the second half of sleep, REM increases and sleep becomes shallower. A study of the acute effects of alcohol on the relationship between sleep and heart rate variability (HRV) during sleep has found that alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep.

Continue reading

Brain Damage Seen in Young Binge-Drinkers

It's considered a rite of passage among young people – acting out their independence through heavy, episodic drinking. But a new University of Cincinnati study, the first of its kind nationally, is showing how binge drinking among adolescents and young adults could be causing serious damage to a brain that's still under development at this age.

Continue reading

Many Kids Get Their Alcohol at Home

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that 5.9 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 14 drank alcohol in the past month and that the vast majority of them (93.4 percent) received their alcohol for free the last time they drank.

Continue reading

Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain

While alcohol has a wide range of pharmacological effects on the body, the brain is a primary target. However, the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol alters neuronal activity in the brain are poorly understood. Participants in a symposium at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism in San Antonio, Texas addressed recent findings concerning the interactions of alcohol with prototype brain proteins thought to underlie alcohol actions in the brain.

Continue reading

Binge Drinking Affects Ability to Learn

Binge drinking is prevalent among university students, especially in the United States. One brain structure particularly sensitive to alcohol's neurotoxicity during development is the hippocampus, which plays a key role in learning and memory. A study of the association between binge drinking and declarative memory – a form of long-term memory – in university students has found a link between binge drinking and poorer verbal declarative memory.

Continue reading


Page top