Can alcohol blackouts cause personality changes - an image of a man sleeping with his head resting on a table

Does alcohol change your personality? And if so, how?

People often drink alcohol for many reasons, with one of the primary reasons being that it highlights a more sociable and charismatic side of their personality.

However, the idea of an alcohol personality and acquiring a newfound sense of confidence is something people certainly reach for. Still, oftentimes, excessive alcohol consumption can also come with consequences.

Alcohol can cause people to become different people entirely – being more violent, reckless and unpleasant. Some of these changes can occur during a blackout, meaning you do not know how you have acted when drunk.

With an addiction, these blackouts and personality changes can be more frequent and risk becoming a more permanent fixture of your life. If you are worried about alcohol and personality changes, it is important to know what drinking does to your brain and how alcohol-induced blackouts are involved.

What are Alcohol Blackouts?

Alcohol blackouts are when a person has gaps in their memory whilst intoxicated. These types of blackouts happen when a person drinks an excessive amount of alcohol, disrupting memory consolidation in the brain.

There are two types of alcohol-induced blackouts: partial and complete. A partial blackout is a more common form, and a person may remember bits and pieces of events. There will be darkness being these memories, though. A complete blackout is, as you would expect, a total blank spot in a person’s memory that could span hours. With this type of blackout, it is nearly impossible ever to recover the memories in this blank spot.

A blackout is different from passing out as you will be conscious the whole time. Your brain is just not able to form new memories, so it is like the events you missed never happened.

Regular blackouts due to drinking can be a clear sign of alcohol addiction, and if you experience them, it should be time to re-evaluate your alcohol habits.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

The brain contains neurotransmitters and brain chemicals that help a person function. Drinking alcohol disrupts these neurotransmitters, resulting in a physiological change that will eventually lead a person to become dependent both mentally and physically on alcohol.

Alcohol affecting your brain can lead to vision problems, struggle with coordination, feeling relaxed and lacking focus.

Alcohol can also, as stated above, affect your memory formation and retrieval. New information is stored in your short-term memory and then transferred to long-term memory. Alcohol disrupts this process, meaning long-term memories do not form.

The part of the brain that alcohol can affect is the hippocampus, the part responsible for memory storage. Alcohol impacts N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), disrupting it from binding to receptors which help with memory storage. Alcohol also affects the frontal lobe, which is involved in memory retrieval as well as decision-making and impulse control.

Excessive and chronic drinking increases the chance of permanent damage to your brain, with regular blackouts being a sign of serious issues. Drinking heavily and over a long period can lead to a thiamine deficiency, which could result in Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This is more commonly known as ”wet brain” and makes you suffer from confusion, muscle coordination issues and memory problems.

If you notice issues early on, they can be reversed, so it is important to seek professional help and attend an alcohol rehab sooner rather than later.

Do Personality Changes Occur During Alcohol Blackouts?

The connection between alcohol and personality changes is clear, even during blackouts. As said above, alcohol has plenty of effects on your brain and how you act.

When consuming alcohol, you may find yourself having impaired judgement – meaning you do things you wouldn’t normally otherwise do. This could lead to sexual encounters, becoming more violent and saying “yes” in situations where you wouldn’t otherwise. Combined with a lack of inhibitions and becoming less self-conscious, you could appear to become a different person.

During an alcohol blackout, you can still hold complex conversations and appear normal, so to others, it just looks like you have become a different person. People may argue that this drunk personality is the truer version of you, but that is not the case. Alcohol can cause people to act out of character.

Having no recollection of this is what makes personality changes during an alcohol blackout so scary. People may tell you about what happened, and you cannot recognise that person. In many cases, it can be hard to face actions you don’t remember, with this denial stopping you from getting professional help.

What Causes Personality Changes When Drunk?

Besides the brain chemistry at work, alcohol decreases the production of GABA, which helps us feel more relaxed and at ease. When our brains aren’t able to produce GABA at an optimal rate, it can have a negative impact on our mental health, making us feel stressed, depressed, and paranoid.

Underlying issues such as anxiety and depression can influence your personality when drinking. These issues may come to the forefront, and your mood may change. People that drink can become angry as they continue to drink over the years – lending to the idea of a mean drunk.

Genetics and tolerance can also play a part. If there is history of mental illness and alcoholism in your family, you are more likely to suffer too. This could lead you to repeat experiences you suffered from in childhood, becoming an image of drunk parents or carers that you didn’t want to be.

If you are serious about getting help with drinking, you must recognise the underlying issues you suffer from. Alcohol may initially help with anger, anxiety and other mental health issues but will ultimately make these problems worse.

Seek Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If you are worried about personality changes when drinking and your relationship with alcohol, it might be time to consider rehab. There are plenty of options available to you – depending on if you want outpatient or inpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment can be accessed free via the NHS but comes with a long waiting list and limited treatment options. Inpatient treatment, the type provided by Step One Recovery, gives you the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.

We provide a comprehensive addiction treatment programme, guiding you from admissions to offering help even after you leave rehab.

To deal with the physical side of your addiction, you will undergo an alcohol detox. This means abstaining from alcohol, which will cause you to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Detox is likely to be a distressing experience, but the facilities and caring environment that Step One offers mean you will be comfortable during this time.

Our range of treatments and therapies, such as individual and group therapies, yoga and intervention services, provide you with the tools to overcome addiction. Therapy can help you better examine your personality changes with alcohol and help you become a more well-rounded person.

Find Out More

The answer to the question, “Does alcohol change your personality” is not straightforward, especially when it comes to blackouts. What’s important to remember is that alcohol, when abused, can cause long-term issues and is never the answer to problems in your life.

For luxury addiction treatment, try the Step One experience. You can find out more about us by calling 0330 107 2950.