Today, when teens turn eight-teen in the U.S., they are classified as adults. They can apply for a credit card, legally marry without parental consent, rent an apartment, sign a binding contract, vote, play the lottery, be sued, get a tattoo, serve on a jury, serve in the military, and buy cigarettes. Many people suggest that teens should be allowed to have the ability to consume alcohol but, by this, they are placing risks on their mental health at the beginning age of eight-teen. Keeping the drinking age at twenty-one will ensure the reducing of traffic accidents, will protect the developing brain of teens, and reduce the access of high schoolers receiving alcohol.
Supporters of lowering the drinking age believe that an eight-teen-year-old should be treated and should have the same enjoyment as adults. An adult is: “A person who has attained the age of maturity as specified by law” (DDT). In the US this is the age where you are allowed to have adult privileges and responsibilities; however, the only privilege these teens do not have is the authority to consume alcohol.
“18-to-20-year-old adults should not be denied that enjoyment when other pleasurable activities are legal at age 18” (Should the Drinking Age be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age 2). The legal drinking age in western countries ranges from ages sixteen to eight-teen. In countries such as “Africa, United Kingdom, China, and Mexico, the drinking age is under 21 and in those areas the young people learn to control themselves” (Verma 1).
The claims by supporters of lowering the drinking age are not valid because allowing them to buy alcohol, whenever they want, might lead to them drinking all the time, and would be damaging to their health. Alcohol is a depressant which slows bodily functions, including your heartbeat, breathing, and thinking (DDT). Lowering the drinking age would be putting a physical health risk on young adults. Most eight-teen to twenty-year-old adults are not disciplined enough to control themselves. Drinking could also affect their health or cause serious damage to their growth” (Archer 1).
“According to one national survey, one in four eighth graders reports drinking alcohol within the past month and eight-teen percent of eighth graders have gotten drunk at least once in the past year” (Anderson 1). By this, it is showing that if they lower the drinking age, this percentage will likely increase over time. They may think that they are able to control themselves in the beginning. Then they will then get addicted and will not be able to. Over time their brain, liver, and heart may give out because of how much alcohol is in their system since they have been drinking since the age of sixteen or eighteen.
“The brain’s hippocampus region, which helps create new memories, is affected by alcohol, which contributes to blackouts and short-term memory lapses while drinking” (Anderson 1). The most important reason why we should not lower the drinking age is protecting the brains of young adults.
“Lowering MLDA 21 would be medically irresponsible. Alcohol consumption can interfere with the development of the young adult brain’s frontal lobes, essential for functions such as emotional regulation, planning, and organization” (Should the Drinking Age be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age 1). Damaging these functions of the brain can make certain pieces of life difficult when it comes to building relationships with others.
“When alcohol consumption interferes with this early adult brain development, the potential for chronic problems such as greater vulnerability to addiction, dangerous risk-taking behavior, reduced decision-making ability, memory loss, depression, violence, and suicide is greater” (Anderson 1). These are very severe conditions that would not be good for young adults because this issue could be long-term. Keeping the drinking age at twenty-one will help the development of the brain from ages eight-teen to twenty.
Supporters may also say that lowering the drinking age will create safer environments so that teens won’t be drinking without supervision. Many eighteen to twenty-year old’s drink without supervision in college which may “Lead to binge drinking, unsafe behaviors, and death at such a young age” (Should the Drinking Age be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age 1).
They also may say that lowering the drinking age would result in more public drinking, making it easier for law enforcement to regulate it. If the drinking age was lowered, eight-teen year old’s, drinking could take place out in public. It could be supervised. They would be monitored, which could prevent them from getting overly intoxicated.
However, in other countries where the drinking age is eight-teen, “It is common to drink a glass of wine with your family as a teenager” (Wein 1). For this relaxed drinking culture in some countries, young people are able to experience alcohol in a safe environment, and they will be less likely to “binge drink” or abuse alcohol when they go to college.
In the U.S., drinking alcohol before the age of twenty-one is illegal, and teenagers are not able to have a safe environment to explore and learn how to drink alcohol responsibly. Parents should have the ability to teach their children how to drink responsibly at a young age while they are still at home. Adults could openly model responsible drinking at restaurants and parties. But, because of the law and fear of being caught drinking alcohol, teenagers will be more likely to drink in private. This also increases the likelihood of teenagers drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time because they don’t want to get caught.
These claims by supporters are not valid because keeping the drinking age at twenty-one will reduce the chance of a large increase in alcohol-related traffic accidents. “Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 50 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1).
Now by looking at this statistic, we can conclude these people are most likely over the age of twenty-one. If they were to lower the drinking to eight-teen this statistic would increase tremendously because you would be putting not only theirs but even more people’s lives into danger because of immature adolescents that are not responsible enough to consume alcohol.
“Before the minimum drinking age law was passed in 1984, 16 to 20 years old’s were the most common drunk drivers” (Miller 1). Once the drinking age was raised to 21, “The number of fatal crashes involving young drivers dropped significantly, from 61 percent in 1982 to 31 percent in 1995” (1).
Therefore, lowering the drinking age will not benefit the people under twenty-one, because it will endanger the adolescence at a young age. There are more physical and mental risks for lowering the drinking age to eight-teen. Eight-teen-year-olds are not mature enough to handle the consumptions of alcohol. Keeping the drinking age at twenty-one will ensure the reducing of traffic accidents, will protect the developing brain of teens, and reduce the access of high schoolers receiving alcohol. “Looking at certain information shows how the number of car accidents that occurred prior to raising the drinking age in the 1980s” (Duran 2).
Analyzing the decrease of accidents since the policy change shows how teens cannot be trusted with the consumption of alcohol. Teens brains also are not properly developed to drink alcohol. They are frontal lobes are not developed to make proper decision-making skills. Lowering the age will also result in many high schoolers obtaining alcohol because most kids turn eighteen in high school. If they let this happen it will result in all kids in the U.S without proper mental skills and physical and emotional abilities.
With this being said keeping the drinking age at twenty-one will help increase the development of young adolescent in the years from age eighteen to twenty.