A relationship between alcohol and aggression/violence has been well established. Alcohol may not cause aggression, but it does increase the likelihood that individuals will act on their aggressive urges.
Some Alcohol Related Death Statistics
- Accidental Deaths
- 40% of motor vehicle fatalities (.15 BAC produces a 25-380x more likelihood to be involved in a fatal car accident)
- 60% of boating fatalities
- 70% of motorcycle fatalities
- 41% of fatal falling injuries
- 42% of death associated with fires
- Homicide: 40-50% of those who commit homicide used alcohol prior to commission of the crime.
- Suicide: Alcoholism is a factor in about 30% of all completed suicides. 7% of individuals who are alcohol dependent will take their own lives.
- Alcohol Poisoning: Annually, 50 students from American universities and colleges die from alcohol poisoning, about one each weekend.
- Alcohol is involved in 42% of the people treated in trauma centers.
Legal Aspects of Blackouts
There is a debate related to whether an individual who commits a crime while in a blackout should be held as accountable for their actions as an individual who committed the same act while sober.
The laws in most jurisdictions of the USA specifically disallow voluntary intoxication as a defense in criminal court. However, involuntary intoxication (prescribed medications, being slipped something by someone else), often is a valid defense.
Victims who were in a blackout represent a difficult legal challenge. For example, a woman engages in sexual activity, of which she has no memory the next day. This may be extremely out of character for her. She may assume that she was assaulted. The accused male contends that she was a willing participant or even that she initiated the sexual activity. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for another person to recognize that the individual is experiencing a blackout and will not recall these events later. How did he know that she was in a blackout and not making sound decisions? This can seriously complicate a trial in which the victim just doesn’t remember what she did. It is also possible that any memory of a drunken episode is colored by suggestion or outside information. Is the victim really a reliable witness?
Let’s go to our scenario. Yes, this happens, even to law enforcement agents. Look at the case NYPD Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata. They were acquitted of burglary and rape charges of a drunken fashion designer in her apartment. They won their case, but lost their jobs/careers. No matter what your personal opinion on the case was, three lives were changed for the worse and forever.
Do Blackouts Equate to Alcoholism?
Blackouts occur quite often among alcoholics. However, contrary to previous assumptions that blackouts only happen to alcoholics, it has been established that they frequently occur from social drinkers who drink too much, to the occasional binge drinker, or to an individual’s one and only experience with alcohol. Black-outs are a consequence of acute intoxication regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or if someone is alcohol dependent or not.
If excessive drinking is tolerated anywhere, it is at college campuses. A 2012 research study showed that over 50% of college students have had at least one blackout.
Nonetheless, blackouts are a warning sign that an individual is drinking in a dangerous and a potentially fatal manner. They should not be ignored. A person who experiences blackouts may indeed have a serious problem with alcohol. Blackouts are invariably frightening and are potentially tragic. If someone suspects that they have a problem with alcohol, a screening test is recommended. Alcohol abuse and dependence are problems that can be treated.