December 10, 2014
Should The Legal Drinking Age Be 18?
The minimum legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Many have suggested lowering the drinking age to 18. I do not think the legal drinking age should be lowered because of the following reasons. Lowering the drinking age to 18 would have a negative impact on the lives of the youth of the United States. Making it legal for 18 year-olds to buy alcohol would increase the number of teens who drink. It would make it easier for all of the high school students to gain access to alcohol. Drinking at a young age also affects your health more than it would a mature 21 year-olds. Allowing 18 year-olds to drink may increase the number of alcohol related traffic accidents. Most of the American population is against lowering the drinking age.
I believe that lowering the drinking age would increase the number of teens who drink. According to the annual survey of students performed by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, “…26 percent of 8th graders, 40 percent of 10th graders, and 51 percent of 12th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past month.” Lowering the drinking age would make it easier for these students to get alcohol and it would likely raise these percentages. Most high school seniors are 18 years old, if they can get alcohol for themselves they would be very likely to pass it on to their underage friends. According to Henry Wechsler, in Europe where the legal drinking age is lower, the rate of teens ages 15-16 is more than double the rate of teens in the United States. If we make the drinking age lower it will just make it easier for teens to abuse alcohol, which is something nobody wants.
If the United States changes the legal drinking age to 18, I think that it would cause a rise in alcohol related accidents. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse says, “Of the nearly 8,000 drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes in 1995, 20 percent had blood alcohol concentrations above zero.” An 18 year old has at most 2 years of driving experience and are already at higher risk to be in an accident, adding alcohol into the mixture can be in many cases, deadly. In the 1970s many states lowered the drinking age for their state. The lowering of the drinking age led to a great increase in alcohol related fatal crashes and many states quickly raised the age back to 21. The national highway and traffic safety administration believe that the current drinking age of 21 has reduced the number of fatal crashes by 11 percent. Drew K. Saylor states that since the 1984 Uniform Drinking Age Act there has been a, “dramatic decrease in underage alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities in the United States.” Lowering the drinking age is proven to cause more accidents. Making the legal drinking age 18 would be a danger to the public.
Many Americans, including me, oppose lowering the drinking age. I think that they are justified in doing so. According to Jeffrey Jones, 25 percent of the population are for lowering the legal drinking age and 74 percent are against lowering the drinking age. The majority of the percent of people who are in favor of lowering the drinking age are the ones who are drinkers themselves. Jeffrey Jones also tells us that the younger people are just as against lowering the drinking age as the older population. The teens who are for lowering the drinking age are usually drinkers already. Jeffrey Jones states that, “Twenty-nine percent of those who drink alcohol at least on occasion favor lowering the drinking age compared with 18% who never drink.” The percentage is even higher among those who are regular drinkers. Just because some teens already do it doesn’t mean we should make it legal. If more of the younger people are drinking there will be more crime and more accidents that will affect everyone, not just the younger population.
In my opinion the legal drinking age of 21 helps protect teens from health risks. According to Henry Wechsler, “Alcohol consumption is the third leading actual cause of death in the United States, a major contributing factor to unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death for youths and young adults, and accounts for an estimated 75 000 or more total deaths in the United States annually.” One risk that teens face is adulthood alcoholism, beginning drinking at a young age increases your chances in becoming an alcoholic. The substance abuse policy program tells us that, “Fifteen percent of youth who start drinking at age 18 become alcohol dependent at some point in their lives…” Other risks such as liver damage and alcohol poisoning also effect the teens who begin drinking at age 18. Not only is alcohol itself dangerous to you, the things you do because of drinking it is maybe even more dangerous to your health. Some health risks besides the common thought of ones like alcoholism are, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and substance abuse. These other risks are caused because when teens drink they make bad decisions. The national institute on alcohol abuse tells us that drinking often leads to things like sensation seeking. Once alcohol doesn’t give them the sensation it once did, they may look for something new that will. This can lead to substance abuse in teens. The national institute on alcohol abuse also tells us that, “Forty-four percent of sexually active teenagers said they were more likely to have sexual intercourse if they had been drinking, and 17 percent said they were less likely to use condoms after drinking.” Because teens are more likely to have sex after drinking, it leads to more unintended pregnancies. If these teens are not using condoms it highly increases their risk of getting an STD. I do not think the lowering the drinking age will have any positive effects for teens.
Social issues also accompany underage drinking. I don’t think many people realize the social effects that alcohol has. Drinking alcohol and making bad decisions go hand in hand. People who have been drinking are much more likely to be involved in a fight or sexually assault someone. Domestic violence is another issue that will accompany underage drinking. Domestic violence usually happens after a night of drinking the alcohol causes some people to be very aggressive. This is a serious issue that sometimes ends in death. According to Alan Mozes many women who began drinking before they were 21 had a 12 percent higher risk of committing suicide than a woman who waited until they were 21 to start drinking. This is a serious issue that doesn’t often get talked about. If teens are allowed to get alcohol for themselves I think they will be more incidents of domestic violence and sexual assaults. I only see negative when it comes to lowering the drinking age.
I do not think that lowering the drinking age in the United States would be a positive thing. Although underage drinking is an issue that we face, lowering the drinking age will just spread the drinking to an even younger crowd. Instead of just making underage drinking legal we should keep trying to prevent it from happening. It has been proven that the number of injuries and deaths on the road from drunk driving in teens is already a serious issue. Adjusting the drinking age will just make the problem worse. I believe that the alcoholism rate will go up a great amount, along with crime rates, and other alcohol related health issues. Lowering the drinking age will have a very negative affect on the United States. I do not believe that there is any purpose in doing it.
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“The Legal Drinking Age Policy Has Been Effective.” Should The Legal Drinking Age Be Lowered?
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Wechsler, Henry, and Toben F. Nelson. “Will Increasing Alcohol Availability By Lowering the
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