The Legal Drinking Age Around the United States is 21

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It has not always been that way and there is a chance it will not continue to be that way. The main argument for having the drinking age set at twenty-one is that our brains are not fully developed until we reach that age. The problem with this is that, just because we raise the drinking age does not mean it will stop underage drinking. In fact, it may actually be hurting the people under the age limit that continue to drink and party in private. We cannot stop underage drinking ever, but we can try to do the best we can to minimize the possible harm done to those who drink under the age of 21.

There are many different views on drinking alcohol especially underage drinking. Everyone is different in his or her views on the drinking age. Some think it should be lowered and other believe that it should be raised. Then there are some that believe that is should remain the same at age of twenty-one years old. Keeping the alcohol consumption age at twenty-one limits the dangers to only those not over twenty-one. Lowering the drinking age may cause more problems than it fixes, but people will argue against that, and other countries have lower to no age requirements at all. Alcohol causes many problems in the society we live in today. Not only does it affect a person's mental health, but it also could harm a person physically. Alcohol could not be too friendly to the human body, it can affect how many different organs function.

Lowering the legal drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen is not a new concept, in fact lowering the drinking age has been considered for years. In July of 2008, over a hundred of college professors and other education officials gathered to reevaluate the legal drinking age and start the Amethyst Initiative. The United States has a higher drinking age (twenty-one) than Canada (eighteen), Mexico (eighteen), and European countries (sixteen). The reasoning behind this initiative is that the United States' drinking age causes more dangerous behavior than it would if it were lowered to eighteen. The minimum age of eighteen has been considered for many countries because of the privileges an eighteen-year-old may receive. In the United States, when you reach the age of eighteen you are no longer considered a dependent.

It is no surprise that alcohol consumption is high in under age kids in the United States. According to the 2017 NSDUH, about 7.4 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 report current alcohol consumption. I think having the drinking age at 21 does not help in many situations. I personally have seen many underage kids consuming larger amounts of alcohol than one should, but that does not stop them. I think that having the drinking age at 21 is actually very unsafe for everyone. We know people are going to drink under the age of 21 but now we lower the possibility of them calling for help when something goes wrong because they may be afraid of punishment of underage drinking.

According to NIAA Drinking continues to be widespread among adolescents, as shown by nationwide surveys as well as studies in smaller populations. According to data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. And when youth drink they tend to drink intensively, often consuming four to five drinks at one time. MTF data show that 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 29 percent of 12th graders had engaged in heavy episodic (or binge) drinking within the past two weeks. So binge drinking for kids under the age of 21 is very common and can be very negative. Bad choices and unfortunate circumstances in underage drinking can cause the loss of life or the fear of calling for help.

I believe that if we lower the drinking age to 18, we will provide a much safer environment for those who will be consuming alcohol regardless of what age we say is allowed. They will call for help if needed and maybe consume less in one night at a party if they know they can drink whenever they would like. Also lowering the drinking age will take out a large number of fake ID's that are going around which will in return kill the market for fake ID's. According to Justin Deffenbacher,

The fake ID business has become a lucrative industry for not only foreign providers in countries like China, but also for college students looking to capture some of the student market while simultaneously profiting from the high demand. Competing with popular international companies such as 21overnight and idchief, producers aim to convince students that their fake ID is the superior product. A successful producer makes an average of $1500 a week, according to The Economist. According to Hall, prices can run as high as $300 depending on the quality of the ID. The market is usually divided between three tiers of value. The lowest tier averages around $100 while the highest rounds up to $300.

This being said, the market for fake ID's is very high. Hundreds and thousands of dollars are spent on fake ID's for college students and high school students. Lowering the drinking age would almost eliminate any need for a fake ID market.

Eighteen years old is the age of adulthood in the United States, I believe this allows us to make the decision if we want to consume alcohol or not. Turning 18 gives us the rights and responsibilities to vote, smoke cigarettes, serve on juries, get married, be prosecuted as adults, and allows us to make the choice to join the military which includes risking our own lives. With all these decisions available to us at the age of 18 then why should we not have the choice to consume alcohol as we please. If we have all these hard choices to make for the rest of our lives and the government sees fit that we are able to make these decisions at this age, then why would we not be able to make the decision to consume. Teenagers have to make very difficult decisions that will affect the rest of their lives and what they go on to do to contribute to our society.

Regardless of the age of legal consumption we still suffer a high number of casualties related to drinking and driving. Raising the drinking age to 21 does not lower the number of instances of a DUI. The decline of drunk driving fatalities started to decline 2 years before the MLDA was changed to 21. With a MLDA of 21 the United States still has a higher percentage of drunk driving traffic accidents and fatalities than other countries with a MLDA of 18. According to ProCon, In the United States, 31% of road traffic deaths involve alcohol. This percentage is higher than many countries with a drinking age lower than 21 such as France (29%), Great Britain (16%), Germany (9%), China (4%), and Israel (3%). So therefore, having a drinking age of 21 is not helping us lower the amount of traffic deaths involving alcohol.

Lowering the drinking age would help our economy as well. If we were to lower the drinking age to 21 the amount of alcohol purchased and taxed from those 18+ would help our economy. If we were allowed to legally purchase alcohol at the age of 18 there would be a lot more alcohol purchased and taxed by those under the age of 21. It would also diminish the thrill of breaking the law by consuming. Some people under 21 consume just because they are told they cannot. This number would likely go down because there would be no thrill of breaking the law to consume at a party or just because they think they can. Teens will consume regardless of the MLDA so the MLDA 21 is largely ineffective.

The biggest concerns of underage drinking are driving under the influence and the brain not being fully developed until early to mid 20's. One of the biggest advocates for stronger enforcement on driving under the influence is MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The founder of MADD lost her daughter to a drunk driver in California. He was a repeat offender but was still somehow on the road and able to drive. MADD was a heavy influence in the decision to raise the drinking age to 21, this would minimize the number of teenagers drinking and driving possibly causing harm to others or themselves. According to MADD, 50,000 American teenagers had died in alcohol-related crashes from 1974 to 1984, roughly equivalent to the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. They were seeking to make a change in that margin. No one should ever have to lose a loved one or family member due to drunk driving.

Alcohol is a depressant, in other words it controls how slow your body functions. It could alter with a person's movement, emotions, and vision. Alcohol impedes messages that your brain is trying to receive. You are more relaxed depending on how much you drink. The more you drink the more intoxicated you are and the sicker feeling you could get. Depending on the person, you could either be an angry, friendly or maybe a sad drunk, making you act not yourself. When you drink, you react to things slower, that's why people should not drive intoxicated. Consuming too much alcohol in a short period of time can have a result of alcohol poisoning; the first symptom is usually vomiting. Resulting more symptoms such as extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing, low blood sugar, unconsciousness, or even death.

While some parents may feel relieved that their teen is only drinking, it is important to remember that alcohol is a powerful, mood-altering drug. Not only does alcohol affect the mind and body in unpredictable ways, but teens lack the judgment and coping skills to handle alcohol wisely. Some teenagers are brought up with the attitude that drinking is pure evil. But most of the time this just causes rebellious behavior and makes them want to try it even more, and once they try it they could possibly get addicted. According to associate professor Deborah Deas and assistant professor Suzanne Thomas from the Medical University of South Carolina, more senior high school students use alcohol than any other drug. Once a teenager gets completely smashed, they are likely to do it again. Why? Well they will tell you that it's fun, unless of course they had a really bad experience while drunk. The teens that do have fun will most likely continue drinking. Some teens will experiment and stop, or continue to use occasionally, without significant problems. Others will develop a dependency, possibly moving on to more dangerous drugs and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others

According to DrugFreeWorld Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills (ability to move) and coordination. Drinking before your brain is fully developed can have severe consequences to the body and to the mind.

I believe that the effects of drinking at a young age when your brain is not fully developed is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Although, I do also believe at the age of 18 you should be able to make those decisions on your own. When you are old enough to decide if you want to risk your life fighting for our country you should also be able to make the choice to drink and possibly harm your development. I think we should do the best we can in our schooling system to best prepare kids to be ready to make that decision. The best we can do is give them as much information and warning as we can and allow them to make the decision. I do not believe it should be the government or state decision on the age we can consume alcohol.

I also believe the age of legal drinking and the traffic accidents and fatalities that occur are not connected to the MLDA. Regardless of the legal age to drink we are still going to have people who drive under the influence and get into accidents when under the influence. We have a higher margin of fatalities do to drinking and driving than any other country who's drinking age is less than 21. The lifelong damage that can occur is not something to take lightly but I think by the age of 18 we can make those decisions on our own.

All in all the drinking age will remain 21 until the government or states decide it might be better to lower or even raise the minimum drinking age. Both sides have many harms and benefits of the drinking age. I say alcohol should have never been created in the first place but we can't do much on that now. All we can do now is educate our young as best that we can and hope they make a safe decision for them and their future. When it's all said and done, they will drink and do whatever they want at any age they decide. Its our job to keep them safe and educated.

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The Legal Drinking Age Around the United States is 21. (2019, Jul 01). Retrieved July 14, 2024 , from

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