Blackout Drinkers Beware

By Dirk Hanson 07/06/11

College blackout drinking predicts future alcohol accidents.

Future injuries await.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

It sounds like something that ought to be true, and apparently it is. Young drinkers who suffer memory blackouts are at greater risk of alcohol-related injuries than other drinkers, according to a new study in the journal Injury Prevention. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin collected information from a thousand students between 2004 and 2009, and found that roughly one out of four drinkers had experienced an alcohol-related injury over the two-year study period. Students who admitted to six or more major blackouts at the start of the study had more injuries in the following 24 months than students with only one or two memory blackouts under their belts. The odds of alcohol-related injury during the follow-up period were 60% higher for the six-or-more blackout crew, compared to the drinkers with two or less. The authors conclude that “memory blackouts are a strong predictor of future alcohol-related injury among college drinkers.” The phrase, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” just doesn’t sound as funny to us as it used to.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]