The opposing viewpoint is the drinking age should be lowered to about 18 or 19. Colleges and Universities argue that having the drinking age 21 is making issues worse. If young adults know that they are legally allowed to drink then there would be a lot less thrill seekers trying to break the law. Additionally there would be a decrease in the number of fatalities and long term injuries because adolescents would not have the fear of legal consequences if they seek medical attention. College students would be affected if the drinking age was lowered. There are already so many reports of abusing alcohol on campus and it would only get worse it would be legal. Although most students find themselves at one point at a college party with alcoholic beverages, it is still regulated and not out of hand because there is an age limit. Many students have a fear from getting in trouble by not only their parent but the actual college itself so they tend to steer clear of parties as much as possible. If the drinking age was lowered it would also increase the risk of students developing other bad habits like smoking tobacco or marijuana.
Adolescence is a time period of significant growth, physically and mentally. It is characterized by physical health and low incidence of disease. It is proven that physical activity and exercise is a primary prevention against chronic conditions. If the drinking age is lowered, the increase of young adults developing diseases is inevitable. Over the long term, drinking increases the risks of many cancers and can cause significant damage to the digestive, nervous, respiratory, circulatory, skeletal, and immune systems. Additionally, alcohol consumption has been linked to diabetes, infertility, sexual dysfunction, liver inflammation, and mental health issues discussed by Gale (2017). Cognitive development is extremely important. It is the development of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood which was a theory found by jean Piaget when he placed the importance on the education of children. Ages 18-25 we are transitioning from adolescents to adults and while this is happening the brain is also continuing to develop as well.
According to Arnold-Burger (2008) alcohol impairs judgment and heightens risk-taking behavior as well as slowing perceptual and motor skills, so given to a person who has an immature brain function in these areas already, research shows that the effects are even more exaggerated. And finally, the research indicates that alcohol or drug use during these formative years can cause long term, irreversible damage. The drinking age is believed to be a lifesaving effect. Adolescents are still learning about themselves and transitioning into being young adults and to give them the option to partake in what is believed an adult activity, jeopardizes their future and potentially their life. At the age of 18 you are not completely able to make the most correct decision because the mind isn’t fully matured. Although people younger than 21 still get behind the wheel after drinking, there are much fewer each year because of the drinking law. There will always be several young people who will rebel, but there are a lot more who will make the more rational decision to obey the rules. Gholipor (2014) states the federal law that enforced the drinking age to 21 made a significant decline in teenage drinking and driving and there was actually a 54 percent drop over the past two decades Therefore, when states lowered the drinking age, consumption went up and more people died.
When states increased the drinking age, consumption went down and fewer people died. The debate over lowering the drinking age to 18 years old has been ongoing since 1984 when it was raised to 21 years old. There is a long history of alcohol in America, and why it was legally set to this age. The belief that alcohol was the major cause of most personal and social problems is where the prohibition movement fell into place. They believed illegalizing alcohol would reduce crime and improve the health of citizens. Prohibition failed and ended in the 1930s and allowed each state to set their own alcohol consumption laws. Most states at that time made the legal drinking to 21 years of age. Around 1972 when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, many states lowered the drinking age as well. Unfortunately, with the decrease in the drinking age a drastic increase of alcohol-related care accidents occurred. In response to the rise in traffic fatalities the National Drinking Age Act of 1984 came into place which prohibited persons under 21 years of age from purchasing alcoholic beverages. It is evident that the drinking age should remain because it saves lives, decreases the chance of interrupting cognitive developments, as well as developing comorbidities and if lowered would negatively impact college students.
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