Alcohol “blackouts” probe continues

A Police investigation into incidents where people reported blacking out after consuming only a small amount of certain alcohol products available locally is ongoing.

The Chairman of the Liquor Board, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said that the facts about reports of blackouts, first reported late last year, were still being established. 

"Right now, those fears are speculation,” Tialavea, who is also the Minister of Revenue and Customs, said. “We are yet to confirm whether or not the label matches the content of the bottles.

"There’s a big investigation behind it and we should also be taking it overseas for testing."

The Police investigation follows concerns expressed by the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, who said they had to deal with some cases of “blackouts” during the Festive Season.

 “This is dangerous: people experiencing blackouts when they consumed a small amount of liquor,” Fuiava said.

Ti'alavea said the Government takes the concerns very seriously. He said they are looking at working with the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa to test some samples. They are also looking at taking samples overseas for further tests.

But the Minister also pointed out that in some cases, people blacked out from drinking too much alcohol.

"Some people blacked out from consuming too much alcohol,” he said.

“They ended up sleeping in the clubs because they were open for 24 hours, and they waited until the Police will finish with road blocks.

"They went in with the intention of drinking too much beer and that's why they blacked out, giving night club owners more work to do to look after them."

According to the American Addiction Centre, an alcohol-related blackout is distinct from passing out.

It involves the loss of memory without any accompanying loss of consciousness and is characterised by the impairment of memory but not other elements of brain function.

The most common cause of a blackout is a sudden rise in blood alcohol level.

 “When a person passes out, they lose consciousness [and] are in a state similar to being asleep, although they are not likely to respond to stimuli like being spoken to or touched," the organisation's website states.

"When a person blacks out, they may continue to make decisions, hold conversations, and even continue to drink. They appear to be conscious, but they will not remember what happened".

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