The psychological benefits of moderate alcohol consumption: a review of the literature

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1985 Aug;15(4):305-22. doi: 10.1016/0376-8716(85)90008-0.


A review of the literature on the positive psychological benefits of light and moderate alcohol consumption suggests the following: (1) Alcohol in moderate amounts is effective in reducing stress. This has been found in both physiologic and self-report measures. (2) Low and moderate doses of alcohol have been reported to increase overall affective expression, happiness, euphoria, conviviality and pleasant and carefree feelings. Tension, depression and self-consciousness have been reported to decrease with equal doses. (3) Low alcohol doses have been found to improve certain types of cognitive performance. Included here are problem-solving and short-term memory. (4) Heavy drinkers and abstainers have higher rates of clinical depression than do regular moderate drinkers. (5) Alcohol in low and moderate doses has been effective in the treatment of geropsychiatric problems. As indicated in the text, results from many of the studies reviewed suggest that light or moderate drinking may be beneficial to psychological well-being. Liber (N. Engl. J. Med., 310(13) (1984) 846) has commented that the subject of control of alcohol intake evokes strong emotional responses, which can overshadow a logical assessment of whether or not to include 'healthy' drinking in a dietary plan. It is hoped that this review of data from available research can help provide a basis for making such an assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Stress, Psychological / complications


  • Ethanol