Why the Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered

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Heather Evans Mr. PhillipsEnglish 10211/25/2010
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Why the Drinking Age Should Not be Lowered.
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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Increasing the age at which people can legally purchase and drink alcohol has been the most successful intervention to date in reducing drinking and alcohol-related crashes among people under the age of 21.”(Nakaya) Among teens and young adults, alcohol is the drug of choice. Many are not aware that they are harming their bodies when drinking. Teens may come intoxicated and make harmful decisions that they would not normally make when not under the influence. Many young people are experiencing the consequences of drinking too much, at too early an age. As a result, underage drinking is a leading public health problem in this country (Ojeda). According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. Some are crash related, homicide, suicide, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.

When President Ronald Reagan signed this law on July 17, 1984 at the White House Rose Garden ceremony, he said, "We know that people in the 18-to-20 age group are more likely to be in alcohol-related accidents than those in any other age group. We know that America has a clear stake in making certain that her sons and daughters, so full of vitality and promise, will not be crippled or killed. And we all know that there is one simple measure that will save thousands of young lives if we raise the drinking age to 21”(Hamilton). Teens are starting to drink earlier each year. In 1965, the average drinking age was around 17 1/2. In 2003, the average drinking age was around 14. By lowering the age to drink, people are giving teens and young adults permission to harm themselves and possibly harm others.

The brain keeps developing in to the twenties so if teens drink at the age of 18 or younger they are not allowing the brain to function correctly. Auriana Ojeda states that “Differences between the adult brain and the brain of the maturing adolescent also may help to explain why many young drinkers are able to consume much larger amounts of alcohol than adults before experiencing the negative consequences of drinking, such as drowsiness, lack of coordination, and withdrawal/hangover effects. This unusual tolerance may help to explain the high rates of binge drinking among young adults. At the same time, adolescents appear to be particularly sensitive to the positive effects of drinking, such as feeling more at ease in social situations, and young people may drink more than adults because of these positive social experiences.” Young people that start using alcohol at an early age are more prone to use alcohol when they are older. This may also result in binge drinking and alcoholism.

Why do some teens and young adults drink? No one really knows the answer to that but it has become clear that some do it because of peer pressure. A teen goes to a party and sees that all of their friends are drinking, so he or she decides that they want to fit in and follow what their friends are doing. This also leads to other drug usage. Peer pressure is one of the main sources of underage drinking. Another reason teens may drink is that they may see their parents drinking and see that it may be fun. Drinking is not always fun. Some adults know how to act when they drink and are responsible enough to know when to stop. They also might call someone to come get them when they have been drinking. Teens may not call someone. They see that it will be “cool” if they drink and drive not realizing the risks of it. Also adults that drink more may have children who favor drinking and will drink a lot.

Radio, television, and the internet also have a big part on teenage drinking. Young adults see movies and TV shows that promote underage drinking and it makes drinking seem fun and not risky....
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