Is Drinking Worth it?

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By: William Dong

Copy edited by: Sean Cotnam and Brett Levenstein

Research Edited by: Brett Levenstein

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

Should the U.S. government raise the drinking age?

One of the most debated topics within the current society is what the legal drinking age limit in the U.S. should be. Adolescent drinking is considered to have both positive and negative effects by various groups. Both teenagers and adults support that it possesses only negative effects on a person, but many may also support the other extreme. Drinking is used as a social lubricant and teenagers support lowering the age limit because they tend to rebel and experiment, but what they don’t know is the details of the effects alcohol can have on a person and those around them. In the worst-case scenario, alcohol could lead to traffic accidents, health problems, and even death. Should the drinking age be lowered? Or in fact be raised?

Why Should the Drinking Age Be Higher?

Teenagers tend to make questionable decisions since their brains are not fully developed. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the rationale part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until she is 25 years old or so, which makes young adults vulnerable to irreversible mistakes while under the influence. [1]

The irresponsibility of young adults with such a dangerous substance can lead to both short term and long term health issues.[2] Alcohol can result in addiction, brain damage, diseases, and even death.[3] Binge Drinking is extremely common within teenagers. The CDC states that alcohol can cause immediate effects like injuries due violence and accidents, as well as miscarriages and still births. The long-term effects of drinking include high blood pressure, learning and memory problems, depression and anxiety.[4] The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration establishes that “underage drinking is linked to 189,000 emergency room visits by people under the age of 21.”[5]

Irresponsible adolescent drinking can lead to traffic accidents and fatalities. Alcohol can cause confusion and a loss of coordination and alertness. This makes driving an extremely dangerous task. [4] During the summer going into my senior year at Wootton High School, the quarterback at our school who I knew personally was in a car with 3 other kids after they had been drinking at a typical high school party. They were speeding and swerved off the road, killing two of the teens in the car instantly while the driver and one other passenger survived. Drinking and driving ruins lives and is not something that should be taken lightly.

Why Not?

There are of course many arguments that support the drinking age to stay the same or be lowered. Teenagers tend to go through a phase of rebellion, where grey matter in the brain which processes thought and memory is not fully developed, so they end up making decisions that a regular adult would not.[6] Lowering the drinking age could help teens drink more responsibly under the supervision of adults and decrease the amount of tragedies.

Many argue that teens under the age of 18 should have the right to drink since teens older than 18 are responsible enough to vote, join the military, and even purchase tobacco products. People advocate that if the government views 18 year olds as being capable of fighting for their country and deciding their country’s leadership, they should be able to responsibly consume alcohol. Tobacco products are also considered just as addictive and harmful to a person as alcohol. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States which is one in every five deaths. [7] Furthermore, even though tobacco is just as addictive as alcohol, the CDC establishes that it causes more deaths each year than alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, HIV, and firearm-related incidents combined.[6] In theory, if tobacco is considered more dangerous than alcohol, then it would not make sense for the drinking age to be higher.

The Bottom Line:

Lowering or keeping the same drinking age could account for more teens drinking responsibly, but also could lead to more tragedies and health problems. If the U.S. government wanted to make the country a safer environment, the drinking age should be raised. Adolescents will then be older and more responsible, as their brains become more fully developed and aware of the risks of abusing alcohol.

Required Info graphic Citation:

http://www.totaldui.com/overview/basics/how-alcohol-travels-through-the-body-jzbdg.aspx#

 

 

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Drinking With Age

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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.

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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.”[1] 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.”[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.”[6] 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.

Bottom Line

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.