The legal drinking age is the age at which a person can consume or purchase alcoholic beverages. In 1934, the “Original ABC Act stated that the legal age for purchase, possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage was 21 years of age” (History). The United States has the highest minimum age for alcohol consumption or purchase. Each state is responsible for setting their own minimum drinking age based on federalism. In 1984, the national minimum drinking age act was passed and it pushed states to set their minimum drinking age if they wanted to receive financial support from the government regarding roads and public transportation systems. The legal drinking age should remain at 21 due to the dangers of drinking and driving, body development with age and binge drinking.
There are countless facts and statistics on the dangers of drinking and driving and the effect it has had and is continuing to have on society. Drunk driving is blight on our civilization. “An average of 17,000 individuals die each year in drunk driving related deaths” (Injury Prevention). The fact that there are so many alcohol related deaths is beyond me. Someone’s life should not be taken due to the carelessness and irresponsibility of another human being If someone is going to consume more alcohol than the legal limit then they should not be anywhere near any working motorized vehicle. Not only for the safety of those around them, but also for the safety of the intoxicated person themselves. Drunk driving is an enormous public safety issue, which can cause more deaths around the world. “The highest drunk driving rates are from the ages 18 to 25” (Top). Considering the legal drinking age is set at 21, there should be no reason why there is alcohol related accidents caused by those under the age of 21. Alcohol can cause adolescents under the influence to drive more aggressively and thus more dangerous. Alcohol slows down their reaction time and causes them to be less likely to prevent an accident if presented with one. By leaving the legal drinking age at 21 it reduces the number of injuries and/or deaths that would be caused by drunk driving. Alcohol related accidents involving those under the age of 21 prove that those who are drinking under the legal age are irresponsible and incapable of using it safely.
The body is affected in many different ways, especially in its developing ages under 21. Underage drinking is strongly associated with many health and social problems among youth. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause death. “Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to more than 4,700 deaths among underage youth every year” (Injury Prevention). Teens do not have the maturity or experience to know when to stop drinking past their limit. Therefore, teens continue to drink disregarding health and how it may be negatively affecting their body. “Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years” (Injury Prevention). Young people’s brains are still developing in their teen years. Drinking alcohol affects the brain and can cause damage or alter the developing process for those who continuously misuse the substance. “Children who drink are more likely to become victims of rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that children will engage in risky behavior or do something that they will regret when they are sober” (Early). Alcohol has an effect on the behaviors of teens immensely. “Each year, approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape” (Early). Kids aren’t in the right mind to make decisions so they make stupid ones that they later regret. Rape is a serious one that is very common. Also many kids who are exposed to drinking at a young age and highly likely to try illicit drugs when they get older. “A teen with an alcoholic sibling or parent is four times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol than someone without such a family history” (Early). Drinking can also dramatically affect the mood and attitude of the person drinking. Alcohol is a depressant and it slows down everything in the body. “Adolescents who start drinking alcohol before age 13 are at a significantly increased risk for suicide ideation and attempts, even when controlling for depression, psychiatric treatment, and other risk factors” (Early). Alcohol can contribute negatively to the mental health of those who misuse especially under the legal age.
Alcohol has such a huge impact on the lives of adolescents that it can create a culture of binge drinking. Binge drinking is drinking alcoholic beverages with the intention of becoming heavily intoxicated in a short period of time. Kids do not drink just to enjoy a drink, but they have other intentions of their drinking. “About 2 in 3 high school students who drink do so to the point of intoxication, that is, they binge drink” (Injury Prevention). Binge drinking is a high cause of many health problems. “157 college-age individuals (ages 18 to 23) drank themselves to death from 1999 through 2005” (Jones). Just because of irresponsibility lives continue to be taken. “44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or greater. Meaning as many as 30,000 college students need medical treatment each year to cope with alcohol poisoning” (Binge). Binge drinking not only affects the health of the adolescence, but it affects many other aspects as well. For students, it also affects their academic performance and their social behaviors. “Frequent binge drinkers are 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss classes, fall behind in schoolwork, engage in vandalism, be injured or hurt, engage in unplanned sexual activity, not use protection when having sex, get in trouble with campus police, or drive a car after drinking” (Binge). When drinking, some may become more aggressive and angry and many tend to act upon it. “Every year, 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, while more than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking” (Binge). Many kids cannot fully control themselves or rationally while they are under the influence of alcohol.
The Catholic Church says that having a beer is not a sin. Jesus did it himself. To drink an excess is a sin. You should always be in control of your body and ready to serve the will of God at any point in time. Many Catholics suggest that it is good to go see a priest and receive confession. As long as all laws are being followed then nothing is wrong there. But with that not being the case for underage drinking, it is a sin. If it is for religious purposes and to a very small extent then it is not a sin and not frowned upon in the church. As to the level of sin, all depends on many other circumstances including to what extent is the person drinking. The Catholic church is for creating a culture of life and with underage drinking come negative effects and countless deaths, which is why the church is strongly against it.
In conclusion, even with the current drinking age there are a number of fatal car accidents due to drinking and driving, long-term health issues for adolescence that chose to drink at an early age, and reckless and destructive decisions that have severe consequences. Not only should the legal drinking age remain at 21 but also people should get properly educated on the dangers that drinking can bring and the effect it can have when misused. If stricter laws were in place then maybe that would help scare kids and stop them from experimenting with alcohol at such young ages. All of these issues are able to be prevented by kids being smart and respecting the law of the drinking age being 21. Many of these problems are clearly unnecessary and also avoidable. Society would change drastically if teens even made an attempt to change the way they approach this issue. But as said before, underage adolescents lack the maturity to realize how this is effecting them. These are serve issues that are highly present in today’s society and continue to cause dangers to the well being of the teens who make these destructive decisions. Therefore with all the dangers and negative effects that underage drinking has on adolescence like drinking and driving, body development with age, and binge drinking, the legal drinking age should remain at 21.
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