Underage drinking We’ve all been there, senior year of high school having to hide the alcohol from dad so we could go to a party where there should be no alcohol, supposedly. Underage drinking Is deeply rooted In American culture; It Is viewed by most teenagers as a rite of passage Into adulthood. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 Imposed on all 50 States to legislate the age of 21, as a minimum age for buying or possessing alcohol. If one of the states would lower this age limit, it would be subjected to a ten percent decrease in its annual federal highway financing.
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Supporters of lowering the legal drinking age from 21 argue that it has not stopped teens from drinking, and has instead pushed underage binge drinking into less controlled environments, leading to more life-endangering behaviors. Opponents of lowering the legal drinking age from 21 claim that teens have not yet reached an age where they can handle alcohol responsibly. However, there are over 12 million, 18 – 20 year olds, In our society who are considered adults by the law but are not being treated as such.
Is It really coherent that at 18 we are old enough to vote, old enough o enroll In the army and old enough to buy a gun but not old enough to enjoy a beer at a restaurant? As part of the advocates, I claim that the drinking age should be lowered to 18 years old. Lowering the minimum legal drinking age of 21 would be good for the economy. Teenagers would legally be able to drink in bars, restaurants, and other authorized establishments, and thus increase the revenue of private business owners.
The minimum legal drinking age of 21 is largely ineffective because the majority of teens continue to consume alcohol. In a research made by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, individuals aged from 12 to 20 consumed 19. 7 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the U. S. Economically this represents a huge portion of the annual revenue on
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alcohol in the country, “This analysis reveals that underage drinkers are accounted for $22. 5 billion (19. 7 percent) of the $116. 2 billion In consumer expenditures for alcohol. Furthermore, this underage drinking costs a lot to legal drinkers, “The estimated $61. 9 billion bill [due to underage drinking] included $5. 4 billion in medical costs, $14. 9 billion in work loss and other resource costs, and $41. Billion in lost quality of life. ” (Miller, et al. ) Clearly, teenagers are still managing to get alcohol, and by doing it illegally they are harming other citizen with unnecessary bills. In a recession such as the one we’re suffering, “$14. 9 billion in work loss” is an alarming number of people losing their Job because of underage drinking.
Instead of underage drinking having such a dreadful effect on economy, the minimum legal drinking age from 21 should be lowered so it could have a much more positive effect on the economy of the country. Proponents of lowering the minimum legal drinking age from 21 also claim that allowing 18-to-20-year-olds to drink alcohol In regulated environments with supervision would decrease unsafe drinking activity. Prohibiting this age group from drinking In bars, restaurants, and other licensed locations causes them to drink In unsupervised places such as fraternity houses or house parties where they may be fraternities.
In these environments where alcohol is easily accessible and where there is no monitoring, teenagers are susceptible to be harmed by the mass consumption of alcohol. A study appearing in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse says: “In general, having many people intoxicated at an event, playing ranking games, and having illicit drugs available contribute to heavier drinking. ” This describes exactly a fraternity party environment. Prohibiting alcohol to 18 years old makes it look like a “forbidden fruit”.
We all know how the story ends with in the garden of Eve, however we don’t realize it’s happening again with our teenagers. Once teenagers have the opportunity to have that “forbidden fruit”, they will try to grasp as much as they can. However, once “the forbidden fruit” loses its forbidden aspect we tend to get over it. “Binge and heavy alcohol use rates decrease faster with increasing age. By lowering the drinking age, teenagers will be able to familiarize with alcohol earlier, and they will become more mature with it sooner.
Opponents of lowering the drinking age have very powerful and respectable organization, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAD). This organization is against lowering the minimum legal drinking age and argues that teens have not yet reached an age where they can handle alcohol responsibly, and thus are more likely to harm or even kill themselves and others by drinking prior to 21, they often use the example of drunk driving. “Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and bout a quarter involve an underage drinking driver” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another strong argument showed by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that minimum legal drinking age of 21 decreased the number of fatal traffic accidents for 18- to 20-year-olds by 13% and saved approximately 27,052 lives from 1975-2008. However even with these irrefutable statistics if the main problem of underage drinking is really drunk driving, there are other ways to control this problem. A harder enforcement of DUD checkpoints across the country could prevent drunk driving consequences.
Furthermore, according to an analysis by NATHAN, safety belts and air bags have had a vastly greater effect in preventing fatalities than the 21 year-old drinking age; for example, in 2002 and 2003 alone, more lives on the road were saved by the use of safety belts and airbags than there were in the entire history of the 21 year-old drinking age. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Another argument that opponents of lowering the drinking age use is that the brain isn’t fully mature/developed until our mid-20. On an article published on U.
S News, Laura Dean-Mooney states that: “A person’s brain does not stop developing until their early to mid-ass. During this period, alcohol negatively affects all parts of the brain; include cognitive and decision-making abilities as well as coordination and memory. Adolescent drinkers not only do worse academically but are also at greater risk for social problems like depression, violence, and suicidal thoughts”. Dean- Mooney has valid point, she has done her research and homework as a Journalist and defender of her cause; however, her point of view is very narrow minded.
Dean- Mooney is implying that in every country where it’s legal to drink less and teenagers drink more, the academic level should, in theory, be lower. Let’s compare the academic performance at the exit of high school (18 years old) between a European higher [than the United States], with only two (Italy and Spain) scoring lower” . Clearly the current legal drinking age limit isn’t helping towards improving academic skills among teenagers.See More on Alcoholism