Why the Drinking Age should not be Lowered

One of the most controversial question and argument in the restaurant and grocery store industry is should the legal drinking age be changed? There are few people that believe it should be changed to something lower than 21; but most of society thinks it should stay 21 and it should not be changed. Below are a few reasons as to why the drinking age should not be lowered to any number less than the age of 21.

When we think of alcohol we think of beer, wine, and liquor but there are an endless amount of choices and mixed drinks for people to choose from when they decide to drink an alcoholic beverage. Some of the types of drinks are whiskey, vodka, margaritas, and rum and coke just to name a few. While these are not all the alcoholic beverages these are some of the most common you will find people drinking. Drinking alcohol is made with a type of chemical alcohol that will not damage our bodies too badly unless over used. The chemical is called ethanol, in order to make alcohol you need the ethanol, and fruits for some drinks and grains for others. It then goes through a process called fermentation. According to www.alcoholandyou.org “fermentation is the combing of glucose and yeast (the fruits and grains) which will then make the alcohol and carbon dioxide.” Since every alcoholic beverage is made differently, each individual drink has a different alcohol content in it. For example, according to Sunrise House an American Addiction Center, they say that Vodka is 40-95% alcohol, Gin, Rum, and Whiskey are all 36-50% alcohol, and beer is 4-8% alcohol.

There are multiple reasons as to why people drink alcohol. They can be suffering from depression, partying with friends, or just want to drink in general to relax and have a good time. People can also become addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance of abuse among young people in America and drinking when you are underage puts your health and safety at risk. We all know that alcohol has many effects on the human body. These effects can range from being tipsy all the way to being black out drunk and even possibly death. Drinking at a young age can cause short-term problems and well as long-term problems in preteens and teenagers. Short-term effects can include elusive behavior, making wrong decisions, being more likely to drink and drive, as well as more likely to be the victim of sexual assault behaviors. According to The NIDA for Teens, “long-term effects can interfere with brain activity and brain growth and development, as well as an increased risk of alcohol disorder for later on in life.” Alcohol can also cause teens to have an under developed liver because it cannot function to break down all the alcohol. The livers job is to break down items with the bile and enzymes that are located within it, this includes the breaking down of the chemicals in an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol can cause people to start losing their coordination and memory when they become progressively drunk. This is why many people that get drunk cannot remember the events that happened the night/day of the drinking. The one thing people cannot get back from drinking is their life. According to the NIAAA there are over 88,000 alcohol related deaths annually making it the third most preventable cause of death in the United States. That is a significantly large number when you think of something so small like a drink could do. This statistic includes drinking and driving accidents, drinking too much, as well as making poor decisions.

Drinking at a younger age can also lead to adolescents having more problems in school. Alcohol effects how brains are developed. During school ages, children need to have a fully functional developing brain in order to be successful student. Having legal access to alcohol during this crucial brain development time can be detrimental to a child’s future. The legal drinking age in North America is twenty-one. People below the age of twenty-one should not be able to drink because most of the time they want to go out and drink with their friends after they get their driver’s license. After getting their license teens are more prone to car accidents without having alcohol in their system, so adding alcohol makes this risk go up. One of the worst things for any family to experience is getting a phone call and hearing a police officer say their child got into a wreck especially if that wreck cost them their lives or if they took someone else’s life. Teens driving under the influence and even adults that drive under the influence put their lives and the lives of others at a greater chance of risk each time they make that decision.

If the legal drinking age was lowered, there would also be an increase in sexual assaults among preteens, teens, and young adults. Adding alcohol to the mix of hormonal kids will most likely end in an unpleasant result. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 97,000 college students aged 18-22 report experiencing alcohol related sexual assault or date rape. Drinking in college also makes college students miss class, fall behind in classes, and possibly even fail a classes or multiple classes.

All in all drinking in general is a bad choice for adults, but especially for teens. However, when you put into perspective the effect it has on your body and your mental health we should take into consideration the age limit and why that limit should not be lowered. The law should not decrease the legal drinking age because of the effects it can have on an undeveloped brain. Human brains do not fully develop until people turn 21. Drinking before the brain is fully developed can cause memory loss and frequent attention spasms. It could also cause very different behavioral issues to occur.

Sources:

  1. NIDA for TEENS, Alcohol, Jan. 2016 https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/alcohol
  2. Domecq, Allied, How is Alcohol Made? http://www.alcoholandyou.org.uk/Facts/howisitmade.html
  3. American Addiction Centers, The Alcohol Percentage Contents of Various Beverages, 2018, https://sunrisehouse.com/stop-drinking-alcohol/percentage-contents/
  4. NIAAA, Alcohol Facts and Statistics, August 2018, https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
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