Mental health.

The Blackout Drunk Gene.

Why some of us can not drink alcohol.

Write Mind Matters
3 min readJul 15, 2022


Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

“During a blackout, a person is able to actively engage and respond to their environment; however, the brain is not creating memories for the events.” — Reagan Wetherill & Kim Fromme.

I was a drinker in my 20s and 30s, but I created a child with a man I did not know in my last black-out drunk episode, so I accepted my genetic fate and quit drinking.

My daughter is an absolute blessing and is destined for great things; I still should not have got myself so drunk I blacked out and had sex with a stranger.

In saying that, he wasn’t a complete stranger, but rather a neighbour I had met once before. Also, he did try to have a part in her life, but he’s violent and now has parenting orders that require him to be supervised when visiting her, and he has chosen not to organise visits. The long story is covered in prior articles.

The blackout drunk gene is exactly that, you black out when you drink because your parents and grandparents drank too much alcohol. Alcohol isn’t metabolised as well in a person with a genetic predisposition to blackouts.

A blackout drunk can function as well as someone who has not blacked out while drinking, you can not tell that they are not recording any of what is happening and that they will have zero memories of their drinking episode.

Photo by thom masat on Unsplash

A person who has blacked out while drinking is not transferring short-term memory into long-term memory and simply can not remember what has happened while drinking. A blackout and passed out are two different things.

Blackouts occur at breath alcohol levels above 0.06 g/dl and come in two types:

En bloc blackout — When you have no recollection of events that occurred during drinking episodes and those memories are never recovvered.

Fragmentary blackout — When you have a fragmented recollection of events that may be recalled when prompted.

How to minimise the risks.

If you want to continue drinking, but want to avoid the risks:

  • Drink low alcohol drinks with glasses of water or other non-alcohol drinks in-between.
  • Eat well and snack regularly.
  • Drink only with people you trust.
  • Always have a friend available who is aware of your tendency to blackout.

When you quit.

  • People you don’t know will assume you’re an alcoholic or a snob.
  • People you do know will call you boring and hang out when they’re drying out.
  • You will have greater respect for yourself and the right people will respect you for making the best decision for yourself.
  • Party invites that involve explaining why you don’t drink (I have been tempted to put my feijoa juice in alcohol bottles).
  • You realize a lot of people know you and you have no idea who they are.
  • Finding out what people really think of each other because you’re the only sober one present (this is outright hilarious when you’re not the target).
  • Your senses are heightened so everything tastes, smells, looks, sounds, and feels better.
  • Clearer skin, healthier weight, stronger, faster, and happier.

Maintaining healthy and strong relationships and limiting your alcohol intake can protect you from making huge mistakes while drinking, though substituting non-alcohol drinks and avoiding alcohol altogether is your best option.

Thank you for reading.❤

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Write Mind Matters

BA(psych), GradDipPsych(student), DipHlthSc(NatNut)|Parenting, personality disorders & trauma.