One topic that has a lot of notoriety all throughout the United States is the legal drinking age. Some argue that it should remain at twenty-one years old while others push for reducing it to eighteen and this has even caused some controversy. Many countries have the age at eighteen and this is influencing others vouch for lowering it by three years; however, this idea is not beneficial for the young individuals of society. Lowering the legal age of alcohol consumption would pose health risks in young, eighteen year olds, negatively influence the public, especially regarding the operation of vehicles, and overall influence the youth in worse ways, as many eighteen year olds are still not fully mature at that age. If the age is lowered, then the United States will see new trends arise all throughout the nation, such as an increase in individuals that drink and increased accidents, vehicle and non-vehicle related.
Eighteen years old is a very young age, despite the fact that you are labeled as an adult in many places. Brain development continues into people’s early twenties and since alcohol acts as a depressant, it causes the brain to slow down. This interference with development may lead to negative impacts such as problem solving skills, school performance, and overall bodily and mental health. The two parts of the brain which are most impacted according to more modern research is the hippocampus and prefrontal lobe (HealthyWA, 1). The hippocampus is involved with memory and learning and interfering with that development many lead to forgetfulness as well as a drop off in school, as learning is affected. The prefrontal lobe is involved with decision making and judgement mainly and affecting this area of the brain can lead to an individual not thinking completely clearly even when they are sober. Regarding the prefrontal lobe, an individual may lose concentration and may not want to think as deeply about something as they should. Everything above listed is simply effects on the brain, but there is so much more. Allowing young eighteen year olds to drink gives them incentive to and this will cause them to be more at risk for certain other health risks because they started drinking earlier. The following statistics give insight into how seriously drinking can affect the body.
In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1). Is is not worth such young people to have access to alcohol because of these negative health effects. One may argue that underage drinking is already occurring and many are already exposed to these risks, but that is not the main issue. It is bigger than that. By lowering the drinking age three years, the incentive for more drinking to occur increases, as individuals will gain access to clubs and bars. Additionally, younger people, such as high schools, will have easier access to alcohol, which is not good. So with that said, even though underage drinking already occurs, lowering the age would create a cascade of more drinking which in turn increases the number of people exposed to these drinking health risks. Moving onto something more serious, depression and suicide in the United States is also so prevalent, and these two are related to drinking. Studies show an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts when consuming alcohol, especially in younger individuals due to the fact that their brains are still developing. Lowering the drinking age also may lead to an increase in this issue, which is not ideal whatsoever. The united States needs healthy individuals, both physically and mentally, and lowering the drinking age takes a toll on both mental and physical health.
Furthermore, the public health risks due to lowering the drinking age would increase. This is most prevalent regarding driving vehicles. Individuals in the United States can begin driving at age sixteen, where they are inexperienced on the road, but taking sately precautions and thinking ahead of time allows less accidents to happen with young people. However, if the drinking age is either, imagine what would happen. Eighteen year olds would be able to have access to alcohol and a car, a terrible combination, especially due to the fact that younger people cannot metabolize alcohol as fast and usually hits them faster as well as their brains being less developed, putting themselves and others at risk. Unless there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving where the blood alcohol concentration must be zero to the dot even for people who are of age, more accidents with vehicles will occur. But, knowing how many young people are, being given access to alcohol legally at 18, they will take advantage of it and there would for sure be an increase in car accidents. One study showed that higher legal drinking ages correlated with lower rates of traffic accidents, which is very important to know. Every since the drinking age has been 21+ in the United States, drunk driving deaths and injuries decreased by one-third, saving so many lives (ProCon.org, 1). The legal drinking age should not go down because you are protecting the youth first of all and then protecting other innocent people around them who do not want to be involved in a tragic accident. Those who say it should be legal to drink at eighteen are wrong, unless they want to see more accidents occur and see more lives lost. Drinking and driving would be worse with lower age because the younger you are frankly the less the you think, but not for all people. For example, when at a party, someone eighteen years old who drove will be asked to drink a couple beers because it is legal now as long as a certain BAC is met and he or she will see it as legal and feel incentive to drink. This is not true for all people but this trend will most likely arise if drinking age is lowered. After having a two or three beers in about an hour or two, the individual may think he or she is okay to drive but that is not a given – anything can happen, as alcohol is something to not take lightly. Overall, young people will feel pressured especially because it is legal and this just sets the path for something bad to happen. Risking one’s life as well as others’ lives is not worth having the drinking age lowered by three years. Again, even though some people argue (counter)
Healthy WA. Alcohol and the Developing Brain. healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Information- for-parents-alcohol-and-the-developing-brain.
Drinking Age ProCon.org. Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age?, 10 Sept. 2018, drinkingage.procon.org/.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Aug. 2018, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol- facts-and-statistics.
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