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. Since the approval of the 26th amendment, eighteen year olds have been exercising the right to vote. Why not drink? 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. 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. This was quickly brought to the federal government’s attention.
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. 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. Some students in college face social pressure from their peers, many begin to drink for the sake of fitting in with others, and they have the desire for social acceptance. Also, anxiety and stress lead many students into depression. Some choose to deal with this depression by turning to alcohol to lessen the feeling of stress. For some students, the pressure from peers to have fun in college coupled with pressure to do well in school from their families can lead to problems with alcohol abuse. Changing the minimum legal drinking age to 18 can be very beneficial for reducing unsafe drinking habits. Lowering the minimum legal drinking age to 18 can have many positive effects on unsafe drinking by students. If students knew that they would not get in trouble for drinking on college campuses, it would not have to occur only behind closed doors. College campuses would have the ability to regulate alcohol use in a positive manner if it occurred openly as opposed to being hidden.
Many colleges have begun to enact alcohol education programs on campus. The AlcoholEdu program is used widely on college campuses, in which students are required to take an alcohol education course and pass a final exam based on what they have learned. Through this program, students learn about the dangers of binge drinking and ways to drink safely. If students are better educated about the dangers of their alcohol consumption they are more inclined to participate in safe drinking. “A recent study confirms that the AlcoholEdu program is yielding promising results students who completed the program had a 50% reduction in negative academic and personal consequences related to drinking”. The AlcoholEdu program, and programs similar to them, can significantly improve the occurrence of unsafe underage drinking on college campuses.
In all, lowering the minimum legal drink age would have positive effects on alcohol-related incidents, especially amongst college students. The risks that unsafe drinking creates can and should be avoided by any means possible. As many college campus officials have already begun taking steps toward making a change, it is crucial that everyone takes part in the movement as well. The relationship that teenagers have with unsafe drinking can be avoided if the proper changes are made to the drinking laws in the United States.