Booze will forever be in headlines. Most recently our favorite liquid pastime has been in the news for the silly names we slap on it, the cities which love it most, and the people (of all ages) who imbibe. Meanwhile scientists, those eternal buzzkills, often focus on the negative effects of that habit. You can’t blame them, when we talk about binge drinking, it’s hard to be cheerful.
From the The National Institute on Drug Abuse website:
Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker’s body and can damage a developing fetus. Intoxication can impair brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease.
What about the people who just have a drink or two to relax? The person who pours a beer on a Friday to say, “I did good this week, hooray me.” They’re okay, right? Healthy even.
One thing that’s not really debated is that drinking is perceived as fun by the people doing the drinking. With all the pitfalls, there has to be a reason people keep doing it (addiction too, but that’s outside the purview of this conversation). This week, a study in Social Science and Medicine formalized the metric tons of anecdotal evidence that we all have that equate drinking with a good time.
The three-year-long study used a wellbeing-scale app called Mappiness. At random times throughout the day, participants’ phones would ping and they would submit their current state of wellbeing from 0-100. As follow-up questions, the app asked who the participants were with, and what they were up to.
For the study, researchers collected 2 million responses from the app, spanning 31,000 participants — recorded between 2010 and 2013. What they ended up with was a huge sample size that could be used to answer a very basic question: Does alcohol make us happier?
Simply put: Yes. Yes it does. The study clearly states that “drinking alcohol is associated with considerably greater happiness at that moment [emphasis ours] — 10.79 points on a 0-100 scale,” but there are a lot of variables involved. The benefit of knowing what the participants were doing helps cancel out some of those variables. Hanging out with friends is pleasurable, so is sitting at a bar or watching a football game. So the researchers controlled for those activities and found that the alcohol-induced well-being boost dropped down to four points.
Most interestingly, though. The researchers found that drinking alcohol had a stronger effect on mundane activities. “Drinking,” the research states, “had the greatest impact when it came alongside otherwise unenjoyable activities (traveling/commuting, waiting), and only increased the happiness of already enjoyable activities by smaller amounts (socializing, making love).”
So, drinking before sex is aiight but drinking at the airport is awesome.
To make a long study short, alcohol does have the potential to make us 10.79 point happier, but as we all know that is a fleeting happiness. Hammering hangovers are eternally horrible. Not shockingly, researchers found that although the boost was uniform, the comedown is uniform too. But all of this is common knowledge. Now we finally have the science to prove it. Ruminate on that, Cersei.