A new study out of the University of Oxford headed by Professor Robin Dunbar shows that moderate alcohol consumption at a regular, local bar with friends and colleagues is linked with personal well-being. Most studies regarding alcohol usage say that there are health risks, which is true if you are over-doing it. This particular study took a different approach and focuses on the role of alcohol in bolstering social cohesion. The researchers combined multiple studies that looked at different aspects of alcohol consumption to come up with their conclusion.
Having some beers with your friends at a regular 'spot' twice a week actually improved one's well-being as these experienced tend to make people feel more socially engaged and content, making them much more likely to feel trust with other members of their communities. Another effect of this social experience is that people expand their social networks. People who did not engage in twice-weekly bar experiences tended to have smaller social networks and feel less trusting of their communities.
The study found that a key factor to local bar drinking was that people tend to socialize in smaller groups which spawned more group-inclusive conversations while those who drank in larger, big city type of bars tended to socialize a lot less due to the large crowd of people, many of them not in their social network.
Dunbar said that this study shows the spending at least two times per week at a local bar can directly affect peoples' social network size and how engaged they feel with the local community which in turn affects how satisfied they feel with life in general.
Dunbar went on to note that social networks are one of the most important buffers against mental and physical illnesses. He detailed that alcohol, specifically, helped trigger endorphins that promote social bonding. Who would have guessed that throwing back some beers with the boys made you super friendly?!
In summary one of the contributors to the study, Colin Valentine of the Campaign For Real Ale or CAMRA, stated that bars clearly play an important role by means of offering a social setting for people to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised setting. He exclaimed that while he has always believed socializing with friends at a local bar was good for one's health, he was ecstatic to finally have a study from a prestigious university back this up.
So get on down to your local watering hole with your friends already! And do it twice this week. If your significant other takes an issue to this, then drop her a link to this article. You're doing this for your mental health and should always enjoy your drinks responsibly, of course.