And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may ask yourself well, how did I get here? Once in a Lifetime/Talking Heads
Every had one of those days like the one mentioned above? You wake up feeling like hell, dazed and confused still stinking of alcohol. You’re not sure of where you are or how you got there, and worst of all, you can’t remember what the hell you did the night before! Not such a great feeling right? I’ve been there, not recently, but nearly twenty years ago I was living that life. Only what made it really bad is that when I woke up I found myself behind the wheel of my automobile, driving home from San Diego at seventy miles an hour! And I asked myself “Well, how the hell did I get here?”
That’s right friends I experienced an alcohol related blackout! I remember getting on the freeway near Old Town San Diego and the next thing I know I’m barreling down the 15 Freeway about ten miles out of Temecula! I had traveled nearly 50 miles, approximately 45 minutes and couldn’t remember any of it. Scary stuff.
Yeah those were tough times. My mom’s sudden death in November of 91 really tore me up. I was suffering inside, guilt from some unresolved issues I had with mom were eating me up and I was depressed. I was strictly a beer drinker back then, although I must confess, I did occasionally dabble with the other kind of bud, but that wasn’t the problem. It was the beer. I didn’t realize it, but I was drinking more, more often.
San Diego was quickly becoming our weekend retreat, a place where we could relax, unwind and forget. By May we were heading south on a regular basis at least two weekends a month, sometimes just for the day. It was while returning from one of these excursions that my blackout occurred.
We had gone down for the weekend and stayed in Old Town. We spend time at the beach, at our favorite micro brewery and at a restaurant in Old Town not far from our hotel. They served the best fish tacos in San Diego and had our favorite beer on tap!
On Sunday we relaxed did some shopping and ended up at the restaurant in Old Town. By the time we left for home at 7PM. I was feeling no pain. We got on the freeway and the next thing you know we were 50 miles closer to home! I tell you it was a real eye opening experience.I was really worried that something was wrong with me, I hadn’t really put it together yet that it was alcohol related. I knew you could pass out from alcohol, but I was blanked out and functioning behind the wheel! I was scared that I might have a brain tumor or something, but two weeks later we were in San Diego again, same drinking as before, but this time no blackout, therefore no problem.
I didn’t experience the second blackout until late August. San Diego again, but this time I woke up as I was slowing down for the border patrol checkpoint just outside of Temecula. It freaked me out! I began researching what had happened and was surprised to learn that alcohol blackouts are periods of lost memory during times of alcohol intoxication. There are two types, total and fragmentary. What I had experienced was total.
During blackouts individuals memories are fully conscious and they are often able to carry out complex actions or tasks during the time of their memory blackout. No one looking at an intoxicated person during a time of memory blackout would even know that they were in fact in a memory blackout. Incredible! I learned that the brain slips into a sort of auto-pilot mode during these blackouts that’s what allows them to function.
Research results seem to suggest that two things influence the experience genetic variables and the rate at which alcohol is consumed. The faster you drink, and the faster your blood alcohol level rises, the more likely you are to experience a blackout.
I have to tell you, this event and what I learned as a result of it was life changing. I immediately made changes to my alcohol consumption. I didn’t stop drinking beer entirely, but I did slow down considerably, and it did make a difference. I will also not lie to you and say that I have not been passed the point of intoxication over the last twenty years, for certainly I have, but it’s only been a handful of times. I can tell you however, that I have never had another blackout. I don’t know if all this scientific mumbo jumbo about alcohol memory blackouts and the ability to carry out complex tasks is true or not, all I know is that I experienced them twice and I am here to talk about it. I thank God that he was with me and guided me in those times of blackness, and kept my wife and I safe. Things could have turned out quite differently. Don’t Drink and Drive! And if you do drink, do so cautiously. You don’t want to have “one of those days again…”
just a thought…