By: Jared Bernhardt
Copy Edit 1: Lizbeth Yorio
Research Edited by: Jared Bernhardt
Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones
The issue of keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 or lowering the minimum drinking age may not be in the front headlines but, it is most definitely still a talked about issue. One side believes congress should lower the minimum drinking age to 18 because you are now at adulthood, you can start learning to be responsible, and the age of 21 has not helped in any way. Now on the other hand, studies have shown the drinking age is saving countless lives all the way from traffic crashes to preserving health and diminishing the chance of receiving long term effects.
As I discussed before there are many people for lowering the minimum drinking. At the age of 18 you are technically considered an adult meaning you can vote, buy cigarettes, drive, enter the military and marry. In the article “Raising the Drinking Age to 21 Has Been a Disastrous 30-Year Experiment” argues how the drinking age should be 18 because it shares many of the same qualities as a “mature” 21 year old except they can’t buy alcoholic beverages. S. Georgia Nugent, a PhD, and an interim president of Wooster college stated, “By outlawing moderate use of alcohol in appropriate social contexts and with adult oversight, we have driven more drinking underground, where it has taken the very dangerous form of “pre-gaming.” He shares this to show people that lowering the drinking age for teens and young adults can improve responsibility and focus them on drinking in safe, controlled environments. According to John M. McCardell Jr. founder and president of Choose Responsibility, an organization dedicated to informing the public about the presence of alcohol in American culture and why the minimum drinking age should be 18 says, “Ninety-five percent of those who will be alcohol consumers in their lifetime take their first drink before age 21.” His reasoning is to show how lowering the drinking age can be useful in teaching responsibility when consuming alcohol so we can protect the youth from the consequences following boozing. Another group which shockingly supports lowering the minimum drinking age to 18 is a group of about 135 universities who signed the Amethyst Initiative (initiative believes the age should be lowered to 18) because they believe the minimum drinking age of 21 is not doing a good job of stopping people who can’t drink from drinking and protecting them physically and mentally.
Now, some reasons for maintaining the same minimum drinking age would include saving lives, preserving health, and lowering the chances of alcoholism later in life. A statistic showing how the minimum drinking age of 21 provides safety for those legally and illegally able to consume alcohol from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has saved more than 17,000 lives on the highway. This does not take into account the Alcohol Justice organization’s recording arguing how the minimum drinking age has saved 1,000 lives per year including more than 800 of those being youth and young adults. Now, on a health standard, if we lower the minimum drinking age for young adults who are in the transitioning stage from childhood to adulthood they may damage themselves mentally in the long run. According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse which researches alcohol use disorder “Exposing the brain to alcohol during this period may interrupt key processes of brain development, possibly leading to mild cognitive impairment as well as to further escalation of drinking.” By keeping the minimum age the same we can lower the chances of young adults developing alcohol dependence because alcohol will be harder to get a hold of and limit the possibilities of wanting more and more.
I believe we need to keep the minimum drinking age at 21 for several reasons. One, I think our research has prevailed in proving how the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 has decreased traffic accidents saving lives in the process. Second, I believe a very key component in health contributes to the issue of keeping the age of 21 allowing youth to develop mentally so they will not be affected as much in the long term as they would be if the drinking age were lower. Lastly, I think it is very important we do not put adolescents in a bad position to think they need alcohol at all times. Alcohol dependence can develop at an early age leading youth to make poor decisions in life.