Drinking Age: Lower It

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After Prohibition, nearly all states adopted a minimum legal drinking age of twenty-one. Then, between 1970 and 1975, twenty-nine states lowered the MLDA to eighteen, nineteen, or twenty. Advocacy groups urged states to raise their MLDA to twenty-one.

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Several did so in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but others did not. To encourage a national drinking age, Congress enacted the national MLDA. Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, establishing twenty-one as the minimum legal purchase age. Today, almost 72% of teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it. Although a substantial amount of Americans claim that persons under twenty-one do not yet have the physical or mental capacity to handle drinking responsibly, drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen due to the fact that persons at the age of eighteen are able to make important decisions and the prohibition of alcohol has been unsuccessful in the past sixteen plus years.

Many Americans have argued the drinking age should either stay twenty-one or be raised due to the undeveloped prefrontal cortex. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, Cells that will produce the nervous system begin to form about three weeks after fertilization in humans, and cerebral maturation is not complete until an individual reaches his or her fourth decade of life. This means the prefrontal cortex, which is where the brain makes informed decisions, will not be fully grown until about forty years. Do American citizens want the MLDA to be forty? According to Health Magazine, Alcohol speeds up a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which is responsible for regulating dopamine in the brain’s reward center. In an underdeveloped brain, the neurotransmitter will react in a worse way causing the brain’s reward center to go insane. One’s judgment would be greatly impaired.

Excessive alcohol consumption causes physical and mental impairment. Peoples under twenty-one will face major consequences in their persons. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there were about 189,000 emergency department visits by people under age twenty-one for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol in 2010. Although this may pose a reason not to change to MLDA, studies done by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services show that the number of binge drinkers goes down significantly in nations where the MLDA is eighteen-twenty. Drinking by those below the age of twenty-one is also strongly linked with: death from alcohol poisoning and unintentional injuries, such as car crashes, falls, burns, and drowning. School performance problems, such as higher absenteeism and poor or failing grades, are linked with underage drinking in the U.S. This could be linked with the study that the number of binge drinkers goes up harshly with a higher MLDA.

Citizens at the age of eighteen are able to get married, join the military, sign contracts, get tattoos, pay bills, and vote. These are all crucial and major decisions. Persons at the age of eighteen are able and encouraged to make adult or responsible decisions. According to the Conference of Local Bar Associations, at the age of eighteen your list of rights and responsibilities skyrockets from little to no legal responsibilities up to total responsibility for one’s self. Citizens at the age of eighteen have the right to vote in national, state, and local elections, have the right to live independently from your parents and be free of their control, have the right to marry without your parents’ permission, have the right to enter into a contract, have the right to make a will, have the right to run for some elective offices, have the right to obtain medical treatment without the consent of your parents, have the right to apply for credit in your own name, have the right to work in all types of jobs, and may enter military service without your parents’ permission. All of these important responsibilities but at eighteen a citizen cannot purchase or consume alcohol. The MLDA is eighteen-twenty in 116 countries. This list includes Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. These are more economically developed countries (MEDC) just like the U.S.

Attempts of alcohol prohibition have failed harshly, causing teenagers to drink less often but more rigorously. According to ChooseResponsibility.org, 90% of the alcohol consumed by persons aged eighteen to twenty is consumed when the individual is engaged in an episode of heavy drinking. Especially when understood in terms of the effect of large quantities of alcohol on the developing brain, this is an alarming statistic. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, In 2017, about 7.4 million people aged twelve to twenty drank alcohol in the past month, including 4.5 million who were binge drinkers and 932,000 who were heavy drinkers. About three-fifths of underage current alcohol users, 60.7 percent, were binge drinkers, and about 1 in 8 were heavy drinkers, 12.5 percent. About one-fifth of underage binge drinkers, 20.6 percent were heavy drinkers. Prohibition is not effective and the age groups drop below eighteen and even twelve. In 2003, 29% of the underage citizen population who were current alcohol users. In 2016, 19.3% of the underage citizen population who were current alcohol users. In the U.S, underage alcohol consumption is allowed on private, nonalcohol-selling premises, with parental consent in twenty-nine states.

The goal of the MLDA is to prohibit alcohol consumption in citizens under the set age. This goal has not been achieved in the slightest. On top of this, the prohibition of alcohol proves to increase alcohol consumption. Countries with lowered MLDAs are proven to have lower alcohol abuse rates. Drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen due to the fact that persons at the age of eighteen are able to make important decisions and the prohibition of alcohol has been unsuccessful in the past sixteen plus years, harming more citizens than protecting.

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