Xanax Abuse – Blackout types and brain mechanism

A blackout is a temporary condition that affects human memory. A sense of lost time mostly characterizes it. A blacked-out person may be unconscious for hours, and women are at a higher risk of experiencing blackouts than men. However, if a person has lower body weight, low water-to-fat ratio, low BMI (Body Mass Index), and some hormonal imbalances, he/she is at a higher rate of blacking out regardless of the gender.

Blackouts are mainly caused by;

  • Alcohol
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Oxygen loss
  • Some medications like benzodiazepines

Can you blackout from abusing Xanax ?

Yes, you can, and this is why. Benzodiazepines like Xanax and alcohol both work on the same elements in the brain, which are called the gamma-Aminobutyric acid(GABA) receptors. Alcohol and benzodiazepines increase the availability of the GABA neurotransmitter because they bind the GABA receptor sites. This, in turn, causes more natural GABA to be released hence slowing down the communication between neurons. Slow communication between these cells makes the short-term memory not get to long-term memory storage. Just as people who drink lots of alcohol are at a high level of blacking out, so are the people who overdo Xanax doses regularly, also at higher risk of blacking out.

A Xanax blackout is not called a blackout. Instead, it is called anterograde amnesia (a brain condition when it cannot retain new information well or at all).

What are the types of blackouts?

There are two types of blackouts. These are; complete and partial.

  • Complete blackout- if you suffer complete blackout, you will not remember anything that occurred when your brain was too intoxicated to store those memories.
  • Partial blackout- if you suffer a partial blackout, you will store some of the memories, but you won’t remember anything unless somebody or something reminds you.

Blackouts and alcohol

The likelihood of blacking out varies from one person to another, and it begins at different levels of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). It is noted that most people start to experience blackouts when their BAC reaches 14 percent. When it gets to this point, people are prone to make bad decisions like to continue drinking or even drive themselves home because their judgment is clouded.

What brain mechanisms lead to a Xanax blackout?

Benzodiazepines attack the GABA-A receptors directly than even alcohol, and this is how it occurs;

Just like all oral drugs, Xanax is absorbed into the body through the stomach. It then passes through the mucous membrane and enters the liver. For the liver, it enters the bloodstream and works its way towards the brain. In the brain, there is a membrane called blood-brain barrier whose work is to filter out dangerous substances from getting to the brain. However, Xanax passes through this barrier and gets to the brain. As mentioned earlier, Benzodiazepines work on the parts of the brain called the GABA-A receptors. These receptors are responsible for producing sedative effects within the body, and they have to be activated by neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages around the brain). GABA-A in a layman’s language can be described as the brakes of the brain. When Xanax activates the GABA-A, it relaxes everything in the brain. From a prescribed dose, for example, to a person with anxiety, he/she cools down, but if it is an overdose, it results in a blackout.

In one experimental study,’ it was noted that the people who were on a high Xanax dosage remembered what they did, but their judgment was lowered. Hence, they got into uncouth behavior and risky situations that they later felt ashamed of when the drug’s effects .lowered.

What are some of the short-term effects of Xanax?

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased libido
  • Nausea
  • Urinating difficulties
  • Joint pains.
  • Talkativeness
  • Irritability.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms

  • Impaired concentration
  • Tingling sensations
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Diarrhea

How would you know a person has had a Xanax overdose?

  • Extreme sleepiness.
  • Confusion
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma
  • Slowed breathing
  • Difficulty breathing


Abusing Xanax is very risky, so it is essential to get treatment. The withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, too, so it is important to work hand in hand with professionals to curb any shortcomings. If you are already addicted, it is important to plug into a rehabilitation program.

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