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Why The Drinking Age in America Should not Be Lowered to 18

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For the reasons that it is hazardous, causes health problems, and abused almost all of the time, the drinking age should remain at 21. If the drinking age were to be lowered to 18, this will allow themselves less time to get ‘drunk’ and therefore, more capable of putting themselves in tragic situations that will damage them as an adult later on whether physically, mentally, their criminal record, etc.. If the U.S. government lowered the drinking age to under 21, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, and many tragedies could become more acceptable in our society. Alcohol is detrimental to the health and the impact would be scarring to the teenager as well as others in their life if they had the chance to drink at a relatively young age.

In the United States, the national minimum drinking age states that no one under the age of 21 can consume or buy alcoholic beverages. President Ronald Reagan passed the law on July 17, 1984. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states “88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States”. Alcohol is a roulette of a drug with many negative effects once heavily consumed, especially for a young adult who’s still developing their brain, both literally and figuratively. In Carla T. Main’s analysis, she states “Between 1970 and 1976, 29 states lowered their age for drinking alcohol. The results were catastrophic. Highway deaths among teenagers and young adults skyrocketed. Immediately, states began raising the minimum drinking age again”. Alcohol consumption from adolescents leads to various dangers such as deaths, accidents, criminal accusations, risky sexual acts, and loss of productivity. Alcohol makes the response time longer than usual and the body less controlled properly. Alcohol has become a universal drug that is now very easy for people to become addicted to in our society. Many believe that alcohol can be considered a stimulant, but in fact, it’s a depressant because of its ability to enable someone to have poor judgement and muffled speech. Acknowledging these facts, it is still used by individuals regardless, to make themselves feel less anxious but a little more relaxed and confident. Sometimes it may appear as if it were to be a stimulant because of its chemical properties, but it’s most often only during the beginning of drinking. The outcome of a person’s reaction depends on: how much intake of the alcohol there is, whatever effect the consumption of alcohol takes on the individual, the amount consumed, and the person’s history records. In 2004, alcohol is involved for 36 percent of traffic deaths between sixteen to twenty-year-old, according to the National Institutes of Health. This only demonstrates that alcohol can cause a slower response time, but also underage drinkers do not have the ability to prevent an accident.

According to Christopher Carpenter, the effect of reducing the alcohol and drug age were a result of many injuries and deaths in 1970 and 1976. It was documented within this period most deaths occurred while drunk young adults were operating a vehicle. Carrie Lightner, a thirteen year old from California was killed by a drunk driver. “MADD” (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was created by her mother right after this tragedy of an event, Candice Lightner. To elevate the drinking age back to 21, Candice Lightner and many other mothers became advocates of their beliefs. President Reagan, over time, enforced congress to investigate the drinking age scandal and passed the Drinking Age Act in 1984, which mandated all state to raise the drinking age to 21.

In colleges/ universities, ‘Binge drinking’, also known as ‘heavy drinking’ has been commonly practiced across the United States on campuses, especially among those from eighteen to twenty years old. Binge drinking would rise the concentration of blood alcohol content to 0.08 grams percent, which is above the accepted alcohol level. Many medical professionals were alerted by the number of students drinking on colleges/ universities that movements have been set to talk about this topic and a recent survey indicates that 50 percent of student has experienced binge drinking and other unhealthy drinking.

A study by Front Psychol showed that underage drinking most often leads to the result of “casual sex” and “hooking up”. Alcohol encourages casual sexual interactions across the United States and the possibility of having unprotected sex and practicing ‘date rape’ has increased at an incline rate with students participating in drinking. In Main’s article, it states “In 2001, 474 thousand college students had unprotected sexual intercourse as a result of their drinking… More than 676 thousand students reported being assaulted by another student who was drinking… and 97 thousand students were sexually assaulted or victims of date rape while under the influence of alcohol”.

Many speculate that since a young adult can join the military, vote for whomever they wish to have in office, and assume legal obligations in certain circumstances before 21, why should they not be allowed to drink? The answer is that an eighteen year old is mature enough to make life/ career decisions, but at that young adult’s current developmental stage (18-20), it would not be the wisest of decision to allow them to drink and not even get settled with their lifestyles/ profession in this precious life that we all cherish. Alcohol drinking at the age of 18 increases the likelihood of experience other hazardous substances (gateway drug), such as opioid’s and marijuana, as well as increasing the risk for heart failure, diabetes, a stroke, and liver failure. Within’ the three years from 18 to 21 in a young adult’s life, they are crucial years of mental development. Meanwhile, if alcohol were to be included to the mix, alcohol alters with the brain development, therefore creating havoc amongst themselves. 

Twenty one should stay as the legal drinking age due to the maturity process many have to encounter. As we grow, we tend to not only be responsible for ourselves, but for others, whether it be a child, family member, loved one, etc.. If alcohol’s dangerous chemicals can present hazardous risks to anyone of the legal age or above, wouldn’t it be in the best interest for the people of America to maintain the legal age of drinking to 21 and allow the body to develop itself until adulthood due to the brain of a young adult is still very sensitive? It is the government’s responsibility to keep educating those not of legal age yet about the dangers of alcohol and its effects on our bodies, as well as to reinforce the reality that we are not obligated to follow social norms, but to make reasonable safe decisions for one’s well being. 

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Why The Drinking Age In America Should Not Be Lowered To 18. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from
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