Wait, what? Getting drunk with your friends is actually good for you?
There are many perks of being a regular at a bar. The barkeep remembers what cocktails we like, we have a special designated puke corner, and more often than not, there are always a few people we can shoot the shit with on a humdrum Tuesday evening. But while hanging out at the same bar with the same people sounds more like an episode of Always Sunny than an intelligent life choice, there’s now evidence that being a regular can positively affect our health and wellbeing.
In a study called “Friends on Tap: The Role of Pubs at the Heart of Community,” a group of researchers looked to pinpoint the specific benefits (both emotional and physical) of being a regular at a local bar. The study concluded that individuals who live near a neighborhood bar tend to have more close friends, a stronger support network and are all-around happier than people who do not.
“Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and well-being. Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face: the digital world is simply no substitute,” Professor Robin Dunbar, the lead researcher of the study noted in a press release. “Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”
The premise is founded entirely on the importance of a strong social utility. With the digitalization of interpersonal relationship, a genuine, organic conversation with another human is slowly fading in the modern social landscape.
But, before everyone just uses this as an excuse to go down to the local bar and stay for both the early and late happy hour specials, it’s important to note that a healthy balance is key:
“Directly and indirectly (by allowing us to meet face-to-face), modest alcohol consumption also enables us to build friendships and create a sense of community,” the study reads. “And there is considerable evidence that social network size and quality has dramatic effects on health, well-being, happiness and even survival.”
Gotcha. So, getting pretty drunk with our friends is a healthy way to start the day. As if we needed another reason to get down to the ol’ watering hole mid-afternoon…