Library Project Five: Barely Legal
Happy eighteenth birthday to all new fake adults. They now have the right to be an adult and join the military and fight for our country, purchase pornos, move out of their parents basement, gamble all their life savings away, and smoke as much tobacco products as they’d like, Eighteen year olds can now do everything their parents do except legally consume alcohol. If they are caught in public drinking alcohol they will be arrested. College students and soldiers are being forced to drink unsafely in the privacy of their homes because they are not legally able to purchase or consume alcohol. Minors are surrounded by their drunken peers every day and want to join in on the fun, but can’t legally drink. They are forced to drink heavy amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time, and this leads to alcoholism, drunk driving, heart and liver disease, and alcohol poisoning. Over time lowering the legal drinking age to eighteen will greatly reduce binge drinking which will result in less alcohol related deaths. Binge drinking is having ten or more drinks on one occasion (Pittman). Binging can lead to violence, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, and alcoholism, all of which can be deadly. This has become a major problem in the United States. The majority of binge drinkers are minors, people under the legal drinking age of 21. Over the last five years, the number of students binge drinking went up three to five times, which means the number of alcohol related deaths per year is also rising. This is a new problem that was a result of raising the drinking age from eighteen to twenty-one. If it was lowered back to eighteen there would be no need to binge drink. Over time binge drinking will stop being the new thing to do, and less people will be killed and alcohol related injuries will also decline. The risk is putting more drunk drivers on the road. There for drunk driving accidents may see an incline.
Minors in college are much more likely to binge drink than the average person due to the fact that they cannot drink in public or be served, like the students that are twenty-one or over. This created something called pre-gaming, where you drink as much as you can in the privacy of your house or dorm before going to the party (Seaman). The reason they binge drink in their dorms is because they want to drink at these parties but cannot legally and would be arrested if caught doing so. 300 students die each year from alcohol poisoning, and thousands are hospitalized. A group called the Amethyst Initiative was formed by several college presidents. The goal of the initiative is to lower the drinking age in hopes of declining alcohol related deaths and injuries. “135 college presidents signed the public statement urging law makers to lower the drinking age (Peel). The idea is that alcohol will be less of a desire, and minors will learn to moderate their drinking because they’re not forced to down unsafe amounts of alcohol in privacy. This would greatly reduce the recent uprising in alcohol related injuries due to binge drinking in America.
Another group of people affected by binge drinking is our United States military. When you turn eighteen you can legally sign up to fight for our country and risk dying for it, yet they cannot drink alcoholic beverages (Peel). Soldiers that are under twenty-one are mixed with soldiers over 21, so they drink together. Before going out, the soldiers that are under twenty-one are forced to binge drink in their barracks before going out to bars and restaurants because they will not be served alcohol in public. As a result, there is more violence and drunk driving arrests. Underage drinking and binge drinking go hand in hand ( Peel). The drinking age must be lowered. Too many injuries and deaths occur because of under aged drinking.
Changing the legal drinking age does have its risks. When the drinking age was changed from eighteen to twenty-one the first time, there was a decline in drunken driving incidents and deaths. By lowering it, we are sure to see those numbers rise once again. Richard A. Scribner, MD M.P.H claims” to simply lower the drinking age without an understanding of its effect” would be too radical of an experiment to just jump into (Peel). Some claim lowering the drinking age would just put more drunk drivers on the road and there would be a jump in the number of people drinking, and this would result in more injuries and death. Also, minors may take advantage of the fact that they can all of a sudden drink legally, and there would be a short boom of “extreme binging” (Pittman).
The effects of the legal drinking age being raised to twenty-one gave birth to binge drinking which has had a much worse effect on society than the number of alcohol related deaths and injuries on the road before the drinking age was changed. Research shows that binge drinking when you are younger can create a drinking habit and can put you at risk of alcoholism at an older age. “15% of students who binge drink in college form a habit of it and continued to binge ten years later. Alcoholism can cause heart disease, liver failure, and brain injury (Carolyn). If the legal age was eighteen, there would be less of a desire to drink. Students and members of the military would be able to join their peers and not have to binge in secrecy. Therefore, there will be no reason to binge drink. From a young age, minors should be taught about proper alcohol consumption and the dangers of binge drinking. They need to be taught safe drinking and learn to respect alcohol. That is what most European countries do, and their deaths and injuries do to alcohol each year are considerably less then Americas.
Law makers are conflicted with the decision to keep the drinking age in the United States at twenty-one or lower it to eighteen. Lowering the drinking age may sound absurd at first, but when you look into the facts, it is the right route. People who oppose lowering the limit claim we can’t make such a rash decision without knowing all effects that will come of it. Yet, law makers didn’t know the effect of raising the drinking age would be binge drinking. If the legal age was changed to eighteen, America’s youth would be much safer. There would no longer be a need for binge drinking if students and comrades could all drink together in the first place. Yes, at first there may be a boom in drunk driving related injuries and death, but that’s because three more years of people are added to the data (Carolyn). With proper education and a lesser anticipation of being able to legally drink over not too much time at all, alcohol related death and injury will decline. Both options have their positives and their negatives, but if the law was lowered to eighteen, the positives would eventually outweigh the negatives, and America will become a much safer place.
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