Preventing Alcoholism among the Youth
The debate over whether the legal drinking age should be lowered or remain the same is an ongoing battle. At the age of twenty-one, it is studied that the mind is finished with its natural process of development. It is less likely that alcohol can damage the development of the brain as compared to the brain of an eighteen year old who has yet to finish maturing. The legal drinking age should not be lowered due to the fact at a younger age; people are less tolerant and less capable of controlling their reactions to the alcohol, potentially putting their lives and the lives of others in danger. .
Almost every state has set a legal drinking age of twenty-one, the legal voting age at the time, after prohibition was repealed. Between 1970 and 1975, twenty-nine states lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen, twenty-nine states also lowered their drinking age to eighteen or nineteen. During the late seventies, studies showed that traffic crashes had drastically increased after lowering the drinking age. Once this was announced publicly, many groups created a movement to increase the minimal drinking age, and sixteen states responded. The Uniform Drinking Act was passed in 1984. This strongly encouraged the remaining thirteen states to raise their drinking age. If the states would not agree to do so by 1987, the government said that it would cut highway funding (Encyclopedia of Alcohol and Drugs).
Many would argue that when the drinking age were set at twenty-one, there is an unavoidably huge increase in alcohol use when youths, turning twenty-one, “make up for lost time.” However, a study done by Alexander Wagenaar and PM O’Malley found that when the minimum drinking age was twenty-one, there was a lower use of alcohol after one turned twenty-one. One of the largest arguments in favor of lowering the drinking age is the use of Europe as a comparison. Where as in Europe, where there isn’t a prescribed legal age for drinking, the age for drinking in the United States is 21. One could also argue that within the United States, one is considered a young adult at the age of 18. At this age, one can get married, smoke, obtain a license, and can even be drafted into the army to protect this country with a potential of losing one’s life. This lower age for driving in combination with the lowered drinking age incurs a rise in traffic accidents and even death. Drinking before twenty-one causes more deaths than illnesses. On the other hand, those countries have their share of alcohol problems. The rate of alcohol-related diseases such as cirrhosis to the liver is the same, if not higher, as in the United States. Also drunk driving among youth in Europe is lower, but only because the legal driving age in most European countries is higher. Furthermore the use of public transportation is greater in Europe, where as in the United States fewer people take advantage of public transportation. Public transportation is either frowned upon or not available.
It is also argued that even though the legal drinking age is at twenty-one, many youths still can easily obtain and drink alcohol, so the current drinking age doesn’t work. It stands to reason to conclude that if the drinking age were lowered to eighteen, even younger children would be using alcohol. This therefore, would have adverse affects on our society, not a positive affect. Because it’s illegal for people under twenty-one, many of those people don’t drink. Lowering the drinking age would increase alcohol problems among teens, even at an earlier age.
My opinion is further supported by the Correlation between underage drinking and alcohol abuse. Scientists of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have said that teens that begin drinking before the age of fifteen are four times more likely to become alcoholics. The same institute also found that alcohol abuse doubles, in those who start drinking...
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Quigley, Loria, et al. Drinking among Young Adults. Alcohol Health and Research World (2000): 185- 191. Print.
Toomey, Rosenfield, and Wager. Encyclopedia of Alcohol and Drugs. New York, 1995.
Gruber, Jonathan. Risky Behavior among Youths: an Economic Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2001. Print.
Segal, Boris M., and Jacqueline C. Stewart. "Substance Use and Abuse in Adolescence: An
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