Positive effects of being occasionally drunk
April 12, 2011 5:17 AM   Subscribe

Does being drunk have any proven positive effects?
posted by fifigyuri to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
May be anecdotal, but it's been said that people thrown from cars do better if they are all floppy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Of course there are positive effects; if the only effects were negative, people wouldn't do it.

It's enjoyable. It increases social camaraderie. It can remove inhibitions against positive behavior like being honest. And so on.
posted by John Cohen at 5:22 AM on April 12, 2011 [13 favorites]

increases creativity.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:38 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mortality rates seem to be lower for moderate drinkers , but I don't know if that falls within in the definition of being drunk.
posted by surenoproblem at 5:39 AM on April 12, 2011

I woudl think this would depend on the scale of drunkenness and the person that is the drunkee. Some people do not handle alcohol well at all. Some cannot function well without it. Some get sleepy, some get angry, many let loose inhibitions and well...there's plenty of movies to research depicting that effect.

Alcohol itself however is regarded to have positive effects when used in moderation. But for the state of being drunk, well, I suppose it'd be hard to prove anything other than the "proof" of what you're drinking...if you can make out the label. Somewhat anecdotal, I really believe I've missed out on some relatively "bad decisions" in my life because I was too obliviously inebriated to take notice...so yea, that's fairly positive!
posted by samsara at 5:40 AM on April 12, 2011

People enjoy it; enjoyment is a pretty obvious positive effect.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:44 AM on April 12, 2011

posted by John Cohen at 5:45 AM on April 12, 2011

I get noticeably better at multiplayer Halo after a couple of ciders. Plus people generally hurt themselves less if they fall over drunk because they're relaxed (although they are more likely to fall over because they are drunk, so I'm not sure that's a net benefit).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:46 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are drunk enough, pain is dulled, which can be a positive effect depending on the situation.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:48 AM on April 12, 2011

Alcohol has also been shown to have a positive effect on female libido (in stark contrast to its effect on men's).

And I believe several studies have investigated the 'beer goggles' effect, which makes one appear more attractive to people under the influence. Whether you consider that positive or negative depends largely on which side of the bed you fall out of in the morning...
posted by londonmark at 5:50 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

It makes everyone else look better.
posted by Forktine at 6:04 AM on April 12, 2011

A lot of traditional singers I know won't give a song unless they've had a few; it calms the nerves. But you tread that fine line between relaxed and incapable of singing.
posted by LN at 6:05 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

A glass of wine per day shows positive health benefits. The relaxation from the wine reduces stress and promotes socialisation, both of which are positively correlated with greater health.

For a long, long time, soldiers have drank before going into battle. Whether those soldiers be royal warriors, modern military, or evening warriors going into battle for sex.

Basically, any situation where the brain's natural inclination is to inhibit behaviour based on perceived threat.

Problem being that perceived threat is, well, perceived and not real. The resultant activation of the Autonomous Nervous System can easily decrease real-world performance.

In a battle situation, the brain is going to throw up constant threat messages. It's very hard to charge a beach into oncoming fire when your brain is screaming "danger! run away!". There's no rational way to calculate that. You can't kill them all and your chances are probably not great. Thus, you want to inhibit that calculation of risk and go ahead and give it a shot.

The opposite effect can be seen in Las Vegas, at the blackjack table. As an individual drinks, they begin to misjudge the odds and make more errors and bad bets. Analogously, one might say storming a beach into the face of enemy gunfire is a pretty bad bet for the individual (for the group is a different story).

Hence why people may be better at playing pool, going bowling, etc. The immediate reaction of the brain is "Don't miss that shot!" which in itself is a threat response that can spoil the shot. A drink 'inhibits' that response a bit allowing the individual to just take the shot.

In the eveningtime, alcohol inhibits the higher functioning of the brain to the consequences of sexual activity, allowing individuals to be more in the moment rather than considering pregnancy, STDs, social judgement, etc.

In business, alcohol is often used as a demarcator between formal and informal encounters.
posted by nickrussell at 6:14 AM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Depending on the extent of drunkeness, there is often some perspective acquired in the hangover process. That usually involves not wanting to drink that recklessly again. If you're not an addiction-prone person, you'll listen to it. As you age, you're likely to find it a very valuable piece of wisdom.
posted by GEB's fun world at 6:26 AM on April 12, 2011

Not entirely sure whether the following is true or not, but it seems to be commonly believed..

Alcohol is a prohibited drug in competitive archery and modern pentathlon, supposedly because in small amounts it helps to steady the hands, and not because of the dangers of being drunk and in possession of a bow or gun.

That said the threshold is 0.10mg/L, which isn't exactly small amounts..
posted by Ahab at 6:43 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bugger. "g/L" not "mg/L" and my mistake, that is very small amounts.
posted by Ahab at 6:47 AM on April 12, 2011

It makes me beautiful and you interesting.

There is something nice about the 'quieting self criticism without losing fine motor skills' couple of drinks level that I thought enhanced my violin playing.

Medical benefits of moderate drinking have been documented. Social benefits may include (and I'm talking out my ass here) community culture in neighbourhood pubs, unwinding ritual after work, celebration acknowledgement and inhibition lowering. Yes, there are other ways to do all of these, and yes, all of these can be cocked up by too much alcohol, but they seem to be common enough bedfellows with booze.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:48 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Depressing works of great literature? Faulkner and Hemingway spring to mind.
posted by Glinn at 6:48 AM on April 12, 2011

Everyone around you instantly becomes more attractive.
Everyone thinks you are also way more attractive.
You become way better at flipping cups from right side up to upside down.
You become awesome at throwing a pingpong ball into a cup.
Increased pain tolerence.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:03 AM on April 12, 2011

Everyone starts looking better?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:03 AM on April 12, 2011

This breakdown seems accurate, with any positive aspects that I'd identify being clustering around low-dosage use.

Potential benefits I can see from high-dosage BAC might be:
  • muscle relaxant (survivability in crashes)
  • memory loss (if you have the kind of memories that require obliteration)
  • impaired senses/unconsciousness (use as an impromptu anaesthetic?)
  • confusion (people might find this to be fun. YMMV)

posted by mazola at 7:04 AM on April 12, 2011

The positive effects of being occasionally drunk

Depends on what you mean by drunk. There is nice continuum with alcohol - unmatched by many other lovely drugs - from nicely, lightly buzzed to completely blotto.

I am a frequent drinker and occasionally, usually through not fault of my own, I do happen to get drunk.

For me the positive effect of being occasionally drunk is that it provides much needed relief from the dull monotony of being continually sober all the rest of the time.
posted by three blind mice at 7:13 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Anecdotally, it's easier to speak a foreign language when drunk. I think there's even been some scientific research that (weakly) supports this claim, although I'm having trouble finding it on Google at the moment.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: As a drinker and student of a foreign language, I'd argue (and have personal experience to offer as anecdotal evidence) that alcohol helped me to get over my inate fear of speaking Japanese. I was always nervous about doing it, surrounded as I was by people who spoke the language far better than I did. My inhibitions kept me, for years, from really ever trying to communicate using the language.

Then I got drunk. One night, I managed to get drunk enough to get over my inhibitions, and I started talking to people at the bar we had all gone to. From what I've been told, I spent most of the night hanging out with a group of Japanese people who spoke no English, yet somehow I almost organized an international karaoke party, and even managed to get a phone number that led to several pleasant dates (with a woman who spoke only Japanese and Chinese).

Honestly, even though I don't remember all that much of the evening, the proof was there for me. I knew I'd done it (spoken the language) before, and I knew then that I could do it again. My honest advice, as an ESL teacher of 12 years (for adult learners, of course) is to, every once in a while, drink a bit while practicing the language. It relaxes you, gets you to stop fretting over the grammar and vocabulary, and helps you to start communicating.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:18 AM on April 12, 2011 [9 favorites]

So according to This, Drinking alcohol primes certain areas of our brain to learn and remember better, says a new study from the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin.
posted by Blake at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's cathartic. If you've got feelings bottled up that you can't quite bring yourself to face, getting drunk is a time-honored way of opening the floodgates.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2011

There have been a few reported cases of extremely intoxicated individuals surviving potentially deadly exposure to very low temperatures as a result of the massive quantity and lower freezing point of alcohol in their bloodstream. Unfortunately, their epic drunkenness is usually what has caused them to be passed out naked on a park bench in the middle of winter anyway, so it's kind of a double edged sword.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:04 AM on April 12, 2011

I don't know whether it's a "proven" effect, but I've also found it easier to speak foreign languages when drunk. I got to the point with Spanish where I had the whole language in my brain and I totally knew it, but had no flow at all and thought I'd have to go live in another country to actually become fluent. But when drunk, I could totally speak it with no problems.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, when I'm drunk I feel happy, humorous, relaxed, affable, warm, sociable, and all my worries, pains and cares seem less important.

I don't know about you but I'd say those are pretty positive effects
posted by Decani at 3:32 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm a pretty tense, neurotic guy. Most of the time drinking helps relax me.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:29 PM on April 12, 2011

Seconding Dr. Eigenvariable, foreign languages are much easier after a couple drinks, as you tend to stop stressing out about verb tenses and correct conjugation and just say what sounds right (which usually winds up being correct). A professor in college used to recommend a drink before any oral exams in our Russian class, just to calm the nerves and get you speaking more naturally.
posted by JannaK at 5:35 PM on April 12, 2011

It helps me relax/be less shy in social situations. However, I've never been drunk*; I drink just enough (one or two mixed drinks) to take the edge off of my nervousness.

*The thought of not being in full control of my faculties scares the shit out of me.
posted by deborah at 5:42 PM on April 12, 2011

*The thought of not being in full control of my faculties scares the shit out of me.
posted by deborah at 1:42 AM on April 13

One can be intoxicated without losing control of one's faculties. This is something alcohol rubes seem not to get. It's most unfortunate. For them. :-)
posted by Decani at 4:33 PM on April 17, 2011

Decani: "
One can be intoxicated without losing control of one's faculties. This is something alcohol rubes seem not to get. It's most unfortunate. For them. :-)

I'm sure that's true. However, there have been lots of drunks in my family. I have seen them blasted beyond belief. I prefer not to find out my limits.
posted by deborah at 2:07 AM on April 19, 2011

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