Would a Lower Drinking Age Promote Further Alcohol Abuse?

A teen drinking alcohol

Alcohol consumption in the United States has been a major issue for public debate for several years. Most notably is the problem with underage drinking. It has grown to such levels that it is seen as some kind of rite of passage for young adults in high school and college. Not only is this issue a result of societal influence, but it is enhanced through poor family practice. Studies have shown that children of parents who over indulge in alcohol or are alcoholics are at a much higher risk for alcohol abuse. The exact cause for addiction has yet to be determined, while genetics do play a role in addiction, it is the environment in these cases that breed alcohol abuse. That being said, the drinking age has been a topic of debate since the 1970’s. At that time, the drinking age was set at 18 or 19 years of age, during which time the 26th Amendment was enforced, giving 18 year olds the right to vote. Then, the federal government set the national drinking age at 21, states fearing the loss of federal highway funds, changed their stance and abided by the federal law. Since then, there has been heavy arguments about whether the drinking age should be restored to 18 years old or not.

18 Year Old Drinking Age

Gabrielle Glaser, author of, “Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control”, is in favor of returning the legal drinking age to 18 years old. She believes that the legal age of 21 today is not properly enforced. The statistics have shown that she is not false in this statement; underage drinking is at an all-time high and continues to rise. The laws that enforce the drinking age are ‘flexible’ and not ‘properly enforced,’ she believes. The laws governing legal drinking age are widely disregarded and broken daily. By returning the drinking age to 18, the society of the United States would be able to properly teach young adults the responsible way to consume alcohol. By teaching them this responsibility before they hit 21 years old, the United States would have a better public health. As of today, underage binge drinking is considered a rite of passage for high school and college kids, which has been proven to be considerably dangerous. The current law dictating the legal drinking age of 21, was put in place to reduce the dangers of young adults’ traffic accidents. The enforcement of seat belt and strict DUI laws has been a proven factor in traffic safety; therefore, the drinking age law’s success is immeasurable. The current law has driven alcohol consumption underground for under-aged kids, to a place where house parties and frat gatherings are becoming severely dangerous. This outcome is exactly the same as the 1920’s when prohibition made alcohol consumption illegal. By restoring the drinking age to 18 years old, society can place the role of responsible drinking back into the hands of parents and the home.

Against 18 year old Drinking Age.

Tamika C.B. Zapolski, an Asst. professor of psychology at Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis, is in favor of keeping the legal drinking age set at 21 years old. Zapolski believes that alcohol is a major concern for young adults and teenagers. Statistics show that 27 percent of children have used alcohol by the eighth grade, while 66 percent use alcohol by twelfth grade. By using the standard of measuring binge drinking as five or more drinks per sitting, over the 2 week course of the survey, pollsters denoted that twenty percent of high school students binge drank. Research has proven that heavy drinking has negative effects on social, mental, and physical aspects of an individual; by lowering the legal drinking age, society would be creating more damage. The risks of lowering the drinking age would increase violence, sexual assaults, accidents, drug use, poor academics, legal issues, and family/interpersonal problems. At the collegiate level, lowering the drinking age would cause two main problems. The first, it would provide greater access to alcohol and increase risk of danger. The second, it would lower the perception of danger alcohol consumption has.

Whether you are for or against lowering the legal drinking age, the arguments can be compelling. As for the present time, lowering the drinking age outright would be devastatingly disastrous. It would have to happen over a long-period transition, with programs and services offered to decrease the likelihood of accidents or injury to those newly legal aged drinkers. The process would undoubtedly be dangerous and expensive, so for now, it is best to discuss the changing of drinking age in theory, not reality.

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