Theconsumption of alcohol proves a highly debatable topic especiallywhen it comes to determine the legal age limit. The United Statesgovernment has made substantial efforts to tackle excessive drinkingand goes ahead to provide the guidelines through which drivers canuse to ensure their drinking does not interfere with their well-beingas well as that of others. One of these policies is the DUI thatseeks to stop drink and drive incidences. An important part ofalcohol consumption has been the rising incidence of under-age andbinge drinking. The two are closely related since individuals under21 years have found themselves trapped in the chains of bingedrinking. This is mostly because they are influenced by peers andfind themselves participating in parties and night concerts thatdetermine their drinking behavior. While there are concerns thatdrinking has dire consequences, there are even worst concerns thatdrinking age should be lowered. Some support that drinking should beintroduced to individuals at a younger age, and some believe itshould not. This paper argues that drinking should not be allowed toindividuals aged 21 years and below. It discusses the consequences oflowering the drinking age and how that will affect the health,education, and the social development of young people. Of specialconcern for the analysis is to refer to scholarly sources andgovernment literatures to offer a deep coverage of the argument –and to derive the right statistics for the argument.
Drinkingage should not be lowered!
Stateregulation on drinking behavior and drinking age limits has shiftedover the past decades. The law enacted across the 50 States in theearly 1980s was intended to reduce the accidents caused by under-agedrunk drivers. The law has partly succeeded, but stringent seat beatand DUI laws have contributed greatly to that success. The roots ofextreme drinking were fought during 1920s – 1933 but such laws arenow seen to favor underage drinking, and other forms of alcohol abusein colleges and universities (Glaser 2). The legal drinking age inUnited States is 21 years. However it is surprising that more thanhalf of college students are below this age, and college settings arehotspots for alcohol. There exist liquor stores and many outlets thatunder-age students can access alcoholic beverages. Above situationshows that getting to college is the only pass to alcohol sinceinstitutional settings allow students to access alcoholic beverages.This argumentative essay supports that the legal drinking age shouldNOT be lowered. It relies on a range of motivations including healthissues, assaults, over-reliance on alcohol, school drop-outs, andlittle academic attainment levels.
Manyindividuals operate with the notion that drinking is the only passagerite to college where there is minimal parental supervision and moresocial freedom. Peer influences coupled with environmental factorsapproves, necessitates, and encourages the culture of drinking onthose aged 21 and below. Approximately 28% of college-dropouts haveacknowledge drinking and a further 25% to 40% have reported the direacademic consequences of their drinking including missing classes,receiving lower grades and falling behind (Ruth 3). Lowering thedrinking age would only antagonize an already hostile situation ofdrinking. Given that most college students are aged 20 years andbelow, reducing the drinking age to 18 or even 19 years will increasehigh-school dropout rates. It is mature supposition to note thatstudents aged 18 and 19 years have little social support and have notfully developed the principles of self-control, focus, and commitmentto academic undertakings. Some are not even able to schedule theirclass time and leisure (Ruth 1). Given that college drop-out rate are28%, the situation is likely worsen for high-school students who arerelatively younger than college students.
Alcoholsharbor multiple effects on behavior, thinking, reasoning andjudgment. Studies point that 1400 deaths are caused by alcohol everyyear and 500,000 students are accidentally injured under theinfluence. Recent empirical studies relate alcohol use to suicidecases especially in individuals aged 20 – 24 years (Bonnie et al.15). What will happen if the State lowers the legal drinking agewithout considering the ability of younger drinkers to controlthemselves and to develop self-behavior? It is likely that youngdrinkers will engage in the most assaultive practices in history andthe rate of deaths may increase from 1400 per year to even 2200deaths. Given the current rate of under-the-influence assaults thatstands at 500,000, lowering the legal drinking age will push thenumber to 1000,000 injuries. The United States Department ofEducation supports that 48 college students aged 21 – 23 have diedfrom binge drinking (Ruth 4). Binge drinking occurs when individualsconsume a larger amount of alcohol within a very short period oftime, and this usually occurs when people compete, are involved indrinking contests, and take untimely shots or tots. Most consumerssuccumbing from binge drinking are college students a number of whohave not attained the drinking age, or those not far from the setage.
Collegedrinking is widespread. At least four of every five students consumealcohol and half of the college population is involved with bingedrinking (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse 2). Indeed, ninetyseven thousands students, between the ages of 18 – 24 years, arevictims of alcohol-related arrests and a quarter of the collegepopulation report academic consequences of consuming alcohol. An evenlarger number continue to attain lower grades and poor performance.The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (1995)supports that there is a higher rate of drinking to under-ageindividuals. Indeed, the institute believes that lowering thedrinking age will have dire consequences than the current recordeddisasters. More than 60% of high-school students are at least 17years and a good number are aged 18 – 20 years old (Maisto et al.11). Lowering the drinking age simply means welcoming a portion ofcollege students into drinking a situation that will further‘welcome’ other underage students into this bracket. Thisanalysis is based on the fact that high-school students aged 18 yearsinteract and associate with those aged 16 and 17 years and will passthe behavior to peers. Sooner or later, Federal and State governmentwill have to deal with drinking in high-school settings. The rate ofhigh-school completion will reduce and most students are unlikely toset foot in college. Lowering the drinking age puts a majority of thepopulation at risk and exacerbates and already deteriorated situationof deaths, assaults, school-rapes, suicides, and accidents.
Underagedrinking is seen as a badge of rebellion against the schoolauthority. It attracts reputation to respective students allowingthem to earn credit from fellow students across the studentpopulation. Underage alcoholics are seen as ‘cool’ and‘aggressive’ and often end up creating gangs and cartels insideand outside school. It is important to note that immediatelyindividuals step into college, they have parental guidance and arelikely to be treated as mature by their parents. A good number ofthese students are not likely to be peer influenced partly becausethey understand where they have come from and partly because they cansee their future based on respective courses and programs they aretaking. More clearly, younger students have a higher chance toindulge into alcohol than mature college students. They have littleidea of where they are going and learn because they were taken toschool (Maisto et al. 32). They are yet to grow and understand howtheir future looks or what they expect to attain in the coming years.Lowering the drinking age means pushing something perilous,addictive, and destructive to vulnerable and uninformed populations.It means putting the entire population of those aged 15 – 18 atrisk and denying them the time to develop themselves socially andpsychologically. This argumentative essay strongly refutes loweringthe drinking age and encourages local governments to enact morestringent legislations on the legal age of 21 years.
Thelong-term effects of drinking are well-known and have been documentedby scientific literature. Drinking causes memory loss as it kills thebrain cells and affects other critical areas of the brain (Maisto etal. 42). A large number of alcoholics indicate the tendency to forgetand some cannot even recall the most basic activities they undertookdays ago. Lowering the drinking age, as seen in previous sections ofthis paper, ‘welcomes’ a younger population to alcohol and givesthem the rights and privileges to indulge into alcoholic drinking. Itis important to note that this younger population is at the ripe age,the age where the brain cells are rigorous and the age where they areexpected to retain as much information as possible. This is theperiod where individuals acquire life skills, learn to conform to anumber of social norms, develop identity, and struggle withself-worth and self-esteem. Pushing alcoholic beverages to thesechildren will deny them the time to grow and will incapacitate theirthinking, behaviors, conduct, and skills. They are likely to resortto drinking on the slightest frustration and due to lack of money,will engage in stealing and other unscrupulous activities. Thisargumentative analysis therefore supports that lowering the drinkingage is catastrophic to a society that eyes on the potential of youngpeople. The American society is committed to educating, empowering,and rising responsible citizens who will contribute to the welfare ofthe nation. Lowering the drinking age conflicts all these plans theState has for young people.
On4thFebruary 2011, a 20-year old Gabrielle succumbed into a fatalautomobile accident and three other students in her company hadserious injuries (Guest 1). A breath-test investigation revealed a0.16 alcohol levels and one of them admitted to consume two shots ofJammermeister mixed with an energy drink Red bull. On May 17th2014, a student from the University of California San Diego collapsedand died in his dorm room. The student Ricardo Ambriz aged 20 was analcoholic addict and had consumed lethal amounts of stimulants in aconcert. In April 4ththe same year, 19-year old Michael Anderson fell from a cooling towerat 4:00 am and lost his life instantly (Guest 2). His friend admittedthey had been drinking that evening and the taxi driver who hadtransported the two back to the dormitory, recorded that the two were‘buzzed’ when he dropped them at the University of Arizona. Bloodtests reveal that the alcohol levels were twice that of the legaldriving limits. Above three cases are among hundreds of other lethalcases associated with underage drinking (Guest 1). The three victimsare a clear representation of how binge drinking is threatening tothe lives of college students, most of who are yet to attain theright age. There are concerns that gaining admission in college is abadge of maturity that gives individuals the free right to drink,with or without the legal drinking age. What then are theimplications of lowering the age limit if not more deaths, assaultsand accidents?
Anew report presented to the American Sociological Associationindicates that underage binge drinkers are happier and have a highstatus. Binge drinking is a symbolic proxy to college drinking as itboosts their self-esteem and provides a break from school-work.Low-status students also report to be happier and to interact,associate and develop meaningful relationships due to binge drinking(Szalavitz 1). This is where they interact with high-status students,exchange contacts and later become social even after parties.Drinking in college is the mark of social life, it the heart ofparties and a symbol of social-co-existence in varying classes ofstudents (Szalavitz 2). It takes away the fear, the trauma, and the‘low-status’ feeling. It puts everyone on the balance beam. It isimportant to note that consumption of alcohol is beneficial ifwell-monitored and regulated. The effects of alcohol may becatastrophic to the lives and the wellbeing of people. However, itstill benefits and harbors multiple benefits that law makers shouldtake in consideration even as they aspire to create alcohol-freeenvironments for under-age drinkers. Alcohol programs are equallyinstrumental in shaping responsible drinking to young adultsattaining 21 years who the Government and the wider society ushersinto alcohol.
Counter-argumentatively,under-age drinking is not a solution. This essay believes that thedrinking age should be held at 21-years and any attempt to lower thelimit should be fought due to aforementioned effects. As reflected inselected section of the analysis, drinking is heavily associated tosexual assaults, school-drop out, poor academic attainments,over-reliance, addiction, deaths [accidents and assaults], and healtheffects on the psychology and behavior. The analysis goes ahead tonote that lowering the drinking age will welcome a vulnerablepopulation into an addictive and destructive environment. Apopulation that has not completely matured to develop the values, theskills, and the self-control much needed to manage behavior under theinfluence. Of special concern for the paper was to examine multiplesources including scholarly articles, government publications, andjournals in the identification of facts and figures to backrespective arguments. Among the identified sources include NationalInstitute on Alcohol Abuse, Federal Law, and the Florida Institute ofTechnology. The above analysis creates insight and develops knowledgeon both the short and long-term effects of lowering the legaldrinking age.
Bonnie,Richard J, and Mary E. O`Connell. ReducingUnderage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility.Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2003. Print.
Glaser,G. Returnthe Drinking age to 18, and enforce it.The New York Times, 2015. Internet Source.http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/02/10/you-must-be-21-to-drink/return-the-drinking-age-to-18-and-enforce-it.
Guest,K. RecentAlcohol-Related Student Deaths.Compelled to Act Official Website, 2004. Internet Source.http://compelledtoact.com/Tragic_listing/Main_listing_victims.htm.
Maisto,Stephen A, Mark Galizio, and Gerard J. Connors. DrugUse and Abuse.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.
NationalInstitute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. CollegeDrinking.The NIH Official Website, 2015. Internet Sourcehttp://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/college-drinking.
Ruth,C. WhyDrinking age should be lowered.Indiana University. 1998. Internet Sourcehttp://www.indiana.edu/~engs/articles/cqoped.html.
Szalavitz,M. WhyCollege Binge Drinkers are Happier, Have High-status.The Time Magazine, 2012. Internet Sourcehttp://healthland.time.com/2012/08/20/why-college-binge-drinkers-are-happier-have-high-status/.