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Analysis of The Discussion in America About Reducing The Minimum Drinking Age

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Should the Legal Drinking Age Be Lowered to Eighteen?

For decades, the drinking age has been disputed between keeping the age at 21 or reducing it to the age of 18, for reasons of gaining or restricting the rights of young people, decreasing the amount of accidents occurring from alcohol consumption, and monitoring the health of college students on and off campus. According to a dissembling group called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the drinking age being 21 is responsible for a decline in annual alcohol-related deaths from 26,173 in 1982 (before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed) to 16,885 in 2005. The data for this was collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As progressive and efficient as this sounds, the NHTSA’s definition of “alcohol-related deaths” including all deaths relating to alcohol, not all deaths resulting from alcohol usage for those 18-21. Let’s say there was a fatal car accident for both the intoxicated person and the victim. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would document both people under the statistic. Now, let’s pretend that the intoxicated person was not the only person in the car– in this case, it would be eight intoxicated people from the intoxicated person’s fraternity. Let’s also pretend that there was more than one victim– in this case, it would be a family of five. Still pertaining to the incident described earlier, if all the people died in both cars, the data numbers would rise significantly.

Speaking of statistics and how certain programs ascertain their numbers to support having the drinking age at 21, several studies have been conducted by individual universities and colleges across the United States over the years. Quoting from a scholarly article called University Students’ Drinking Patterns and Problems: Examining the Effects of Raising the Purchase Age, “Two studies reported steady increases through the early to mid-1970s in drinking at the universities studied, while two other studies, one from the early 1970s and the other from the early to mid-1980s, found decreases in drinking among the students surveyed. In contrast, three other studies reported no apparent change over time in the proportion of drinkers on the college campuses surveyed.” Evidently, there is conflicting data between the studies conducted, making it virtually impossible to conduct a conclusion about raising the drinking age. The reason for this is because of the differing definitions of drinking, sampling procedures, and statistical analyses. From the same article, the definition of heavy drinking is, “…those who consume six or more drinks at any one sitting more than once a week.” Because of this, the number of drinkers aged eighteen to twenty-one seems like a huge issue, when in reality it, historically, is not. Before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed in 1984, the mean percentage of students’ drinking was 90 percent in 1976. After the federal order was authorized and enforced, the percentage decreased to 88.2%. This data concludes that, regardless of the enactment of a federal drinking law, young adults are still going to drink.

A common argument used in relation to lowering the drinking age to be is the age to enlist in the military, which is also eighteen. In an article entitled “Politics and Safety Cloud College-Led Bid to Spur Debate”, a policy associate named Matthew Gever has stated that the argument has been, “If they’re over there in Iraq and have been shot at, they may as well be able to have a beer when they get back home.” Those who serve and risk their lives for the freedom of United States citizens should be able to relax either at home or with friends in a bar without having to deal with the issue of being 21 years of age. It is the least amount of respect they could get for their service overseas. Many states, although unsuccessful, have also considered bills for this, including Minnesota, Kentucky, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Vermont. Not to mention, the maturity levels between an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old are not as different as society thinks. In a psychological study conducted by two researchers at Dartmouth College in 2006, a group of nineteen 18-year-old Dartmouth students and a group of adults ages 25- 35 were analyzed in comparison to each other. The results indicated that significant changes took place in the regions of the brain known to be emotion and cognition centers. One of the researchers, Craig Bennett, stated, “The brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling the brain of someone in their mid-twenties.” According to this study, anyone who consumed alcohol at the current legal age of 21 must be psychologically in the same mental state as an 18-year-old, going against everything the media has claimed about 21 being a safer age to consume alcohol. From a separate article entitled, “College Presidents Seek Drinking Age Debate”, a woman named Moana Jagasia, a Duke University student, states that reducing the age to 18 could be helpful. Due to, “the age being younger, you’re getting exposed to it at a younger age, and you don’t freak out when you get to campus.”

If the United States reduces the drinking age to 18 rather than 21, it would also decrease the risk of drinking too much in hazardous environments, like fraternities and sororities. According to an anthropology professor at Brown University named Dwight B. Heath, “…banning alcohol until age 21 creates something of the ‘forbidden fruit syndrome’. It causes younger people to crave it even more, prompting them to enjoy it in more dangerous environments…” If drinking was implemented at 18, teenagers would learn earlier that it really is not all that it is cracked up to be. This enactment would also reduce the number of adolescents who drink only for the thrill. Parties at sorority and fraternity houses are hotspots for these, but as much as the media attempts to construe it otherwise, drinking in college dormitories is not a recent occurrence, nor can studies accurately predict long-term issues with alcohol use from a college student drinking at a party.

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Analysis of the Discussion in America About Reducing the Minimum Drinking Age. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-discussion-in-america-about-reducing-the-minimum-drinking-age/
“Analysis of the Discussion in America About Reducing the Minimum Drinking Age.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-discussion-in-america-about-reducing-the-minimum-drinking-age/
Analysis of the Discussion in America About Reducing the Minimum Drinking Age. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-discussion-in-america-about-reducing-the-minimum-drinking-age/> [Accessed 5 Feb. 2023].
Analysis of the Discussion in America About Reducing the Minimum Drinking Age [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 03 [cited 2023 Feb 5]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-discussion-in-america-about-reducing-the-minimum-drinking-age/
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