Underage Drinking

Topics: Drinking culture, Legal drinking age, Amethyst Initiative Pages: 5 (1622 words) Published: January 3, 2013
The issue of underage drinking has become a major problem, especially on college campuses. But, underage drinking is not purely the root of all accidents related to alcohol. The real problem lies within the unsafe underage drinking habits amongst youth. There are ways that these alcohol-related accidents can be avoided. Several organizations have been created that are targeting a change in the legal drinking age laws. One key way to lower the risk of unsafe drinking is to lower the minimum legal drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen.

The minimum legal drinking age was not always twenty-one; it has fluctuated between twenty-one and eighteen over the past few decades. In the article, “Underage Drinking and the Drinking Age” by Carla T. Main, the issues of voting age during the Vietnam War are discussed. Furthermore, she speaks about how the change of the legal voting age is linked to the change of the minimum legal drinking age. During the Vietnam War, lowering the voting age to eighteen became an issue. Many felt as though they should be trusted to vote if they were trusted to fight for their country (Main 35). Along with this issue came the issue of lowering the minimum legal drinking age as well. Americans began to realize that as eighteen year olds, citizens were given many rights, and those should include voting and drinking. At eighteen, rights include serving the United State military, the ability to get married, and being able to legal sign contracts on your own. After much attention, the voting age was changed (Main 35). In the article, “The Drinking Game”, Marshall Poe discusses the change of the voting age during the Vietnam War. “The needed three-fourths of the states approved the 26th amendment in under five months, record time. Eighteen year olds could now fight and vote” (Poe 15). Since the approval of the 26th amendment, eighteen year olds have been exercising the right to vote.

Once the issue of lowering the minimum legal drinking age arose, many individual states began to review their drinking laws. Some chose to lower the legal age to eighteen, while others remained at twenty-one. Between 1970 and 1976, 29 states had changed their legal drinking age to eighteen (Main 35). What this caused was teenagers travelling from one state to another where they were allowed to drink at the age of eighteen. This travelling led to an increase in highway accidents due to drunk driving (Main 35). This was quickly brought to the federal government’s attention. In the article, “Turning 21 and the Associated Changes in Drinking and Driving After Drinking Among College Students” by Kim Fromme, Reagan R. Wetherill, and Dan J. Neal, the problem with alcohol related highway accidents was addressed. The states realized that the differences between legal drinking ages was causing a problem and by 1988, each state had set their legal drinking age back to twenty-one (Fromme, Neal, and Wetherill 22). Now, the question is whether or not this change has had a positive or negative effect on drinking habits amongst teenagers.

As many teenagers enter college, they begin to experiment with many things. Although not all students participate in underage drinking, it is evident that a vast majority do. Drinking is not the problem. The main problem occurs when students resort to binge drinking. In the article “Student Drinking: New Strategies but No Magic Bullet”, Marilyn Gilroy discusses binge drinking and the risks that come along with it. “The problem of binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks on one sitting, has continued despite the media attention and alcohol awareness campaigns over the past 10 years” (Gilroy 52). Binge drinking leads to several serious problems. Injuries that result from binge drinking include, but are not limited to, alcohol poisoning, cardiac arrest, falls, and accidents. The reasons why students take part in underage drinking are different from person to person (Gilroy 52). Some students in...
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