Heather Evans Mr. PhillipsEnglish 10211/25/2010 | | Why the Drinking Age Should Not be Lowered. | | According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Increasing the age at which people can legally purchase and drink alcohol has been the most successful intervention to date in reducing drinking and alcohol-related crashes among people under the age of 21. ”(Nakaya) Among teens and young adults, alcohol is the drug of choice. Many are not aware that they are harming their bodies when drinking.
Teens may come intoxicated and make harmful decisions that they would not normally make when not under the influence. Many young people are experiencing the consequences of drinking too much, at too early an age. As a result, underage drinking is a leading public health problem in this country (Ojeda). According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking.
Some are crash related, homicide, suicide, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings. When President Ronald Reagan signed this law on July 17, 1984 at the White House Rose Garden ceremony, he said, “We know that people in the 18-to-20 age group are more likely to be in alcohol-related accidents than those in any other age group. We know that America has a clear stake in making certain that her sons and daughters, so full of vitality and promise, will not be crippled or killed.
And we all know that there is one simple measure that will save thousands of young lives if we raise the drinking age to 21”(Hamilton). Teens are starting to drink earlier each year. In 1965, the average drinking age was around 17 1/2. In 2003, the average drinking age was around 14. By lowering the age to drink, people are giving teens and young adults permission to harm themselves and possibly harm others. The brain keeps developing in to the twenties so if teens drink at the age of 18 or younger they are not allowing the brain to function correctly.
Auriana Ojeda states that “Differences between the adult brain and the brain of the maturing adolescent also may help to explain why many young drinkers are able to consume much larger amounts of alcohol than adults before experiencing the negative consequences of drinking, such as drowsiness, lack of coordination, and withdrawal/hangover effects. This unusual tolerance may help to explain the high rates of binge drinking among young adults.
At the same time, adolescents appear to be particularly sensitive to the positive effects of drinking, such as feeling more at ease in social situations, and young people may drink more than adults because of these positive social experiences. ” Young people that start using alcohol at an early age are more prone to use alcohol when they are older. This may also result in binge drinking and alcoholism. Why do some teens and young adults drink? No one really knows the answer to that but it has become clear that some do it because of peer pressure.
A teen goes to a party and sees that all of their friends are drinking, so he or she decides that they want to fit in and follow what their friends are doing. This also leads to other drug usage. Peer pressure is one of the main sources of underage drinking. Another reason teens may drink is that they may see their parents drinking and see that it may be fun. Drinking is not always fun. Some adults know how to act when they drink and are responsible enough to know when to stop. They also might call someone to come get them when they have been drinking.
Teens may not call someone. They see that it will be “cool” if they drink and drive not realizing the risks of it. Also adults that drink more may have children who favor drinking and will drink a lot. Radio, television, and the internet also have a big part on teenage drinking. Young adults see movies and TV shows that promote underage drinking and it makes drinking seem fun and not risky. They do not realize that it is just television and some of the things that are done are done by professionals and stunt people. And normally they are not drinking in the shows.
Just making it seem like it. The media uses this to their advantage. The alcohol companies pay the media to do commercials and the media pay the companies to use their product in shows and movies. Alcohol commercials are now made to where they make the alcohol desirable to young people so they can sell more. Stores that provide alcohol are accepting to these commercials because it allows them to make more money. It does not matter to them if the adult gives the alcohol to young teens. As long as the teen does not buy it they do not care.
Raising the price of alcohol may also help out underage drinking. Ojeda also states in his research that teens also do not see the health risks that they are putting themselves in. They are more prone to liver damage, obesity, and other major health issues. Studies show that with teens that are overweight or obese, they have elevated liver enzymes even with only moderate drinking. Teens that are going through or about to go through puberty also show the upset of the critical hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs, muscles, and bones. Ojeda) Studies in animals show that drinking during puberty also has an effect on the reproductive system. Other risky behaviors may include unplanned sexual activity. This may result in an unplanned pregnancy or forms of STD. Teens are more hormonal and with the influence of alcohol they may make decisions that will affect the rest of their life. They may also develop an alcohol use disorder. Young people who drink heavily are also more prone to drinking heavily as adults which may cause health issues as they get older.
Having the drinking age set to 21 years of age has been a proven success. An estimated 20,000 lives have been saved due to the law. (Hamilton) Since President Reagan established the law, the fatal accidents involved with drunk driving or young people that have been drinking and were in an accident, has been cut in half. That does not even include the number of injuries that have been reduced by the law. The “21” law is very effective. It does not stop teens from drinking but it does stop them from being able to buy the alcohol.
Removing the law would help the companies and the stores that sell alcohol, but it will also make the number of deaths rise and the number of young adults that drink heavily rise as well. If people remove the “21” law they might as well let drugs be legal. Alcohol is just a drug for young teens to experience. Other consequences of underage drinking include death from alcohol poisoning, academic problems, various social problems, and physical problems such as medical illnesses. (Nakaya) Teens that consume alcohol on a daily basis or quite often experience changes in school and other things that they normally would do.
Underage drinking may result in teens losing friendships over it, failing grades, and also becoming ill more often in a result of their immune system not fully in order. Teens may feel like they are not accepted in society so they drink more to help them with the emptiness. They may start to think that their parents are always yelling or getting on to them or they are always in trouble because they are in a state of mind where they cannot function without the alcohol. Once they consume some, teens are back to the normal state of mind in their eyes and can function.
Because of this teens are getting addicted and become very dependent on alcohol. If they do not get their alcohol they go into a depression and start having withdraws. At this time they should realize what they are doing to their bodies but some do not and they continue to drink and harm themselves. College students may also be more affected by alcohol because teens see that college is just one big party. Teens that are just enrolling in college are trying to fit in. They go to parties and drink heavily.
They then become intoxicated and are more accepting to do dumb things. A college student is new to the environment and does not know how to act. Some students are focused on school and do not go to parties and if they do they do not drink. The students that do drink feel that they are accepted in the society of college and may think it is the right path for them. They become overwhelmed and most do not finish out the degree program. Some realize what they are doing and stop drinking and become more academically focused and succeed in getting their degree.
As you can see there are many reasons on why the drinking age should not be lowered. I feel that people between the ages of 18 – 21 are not fully aware of all the risks and may have alcohol as a crutch. Teens need to focus on school and doing something with their life. There are too many people in the world that have let alcohol consume them and have not done anything with they have wanted.
Works Cited: Hamilton, Wendy J. “Age-Twenty-One Drinking Laws Protect Youth. ” Alcohol. Ed. Andrea C. Nakaya. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Opposing Viewpoints. Nakaya, Andrea C. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Underage Drinking Is a Serious Problem. ” Alcohol. Ed. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Nelson, David E. “The Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered. ” Teen Drug Abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Opposing Viewpoints. Ojeda, Audriana. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered. ” Teens at Risk. Ed. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2009.