In their primary years, children are naive and impressionable. At such a young age, our parents are seen drinking and having a good time, which therefore makes us think that the effects of alcohol are only positive. This is why most teenagers start drinking at such a young age. “Thirteen- to fifteen-year-olds are at high risk to begin drinking. According to results of an annual survey of students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades, 26% of 8th graders, 40% of 10th graders, and 51% of 12th graders reported drinking alcohol in 2008” (Early 1).
This just goes to show that because of all the early exposure to alcohol, teens in America tend abuse it at such an early age. “In fact, alcohol consumption is the third leading actual cause of death in the United States, a major contributing factor to unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death for youths and young adults, and accounts for an estimated 75,000 or more total deaths in the United States annually” (Wechsler 1). The legal drinking age should stay at 21 because young teens are at a higher risk of endangering themselves, as well as others.
When teenagers drink, most of them do not know their limits. There are many different cases where college teenagers drink way too much and give themselves alcohol poisoning. For example, in 2008, a 20-year-old college student who attended Winona State University died from alcohol poisoning on December 14th. “According to police reports, she had three beers during the day, then played beer pong — a drinking game — in the evening, and downed some vodka, too” (Drinking 1). The problem was that she just continued to drink and drink but nobody bothered to stop her.
She had way too much alcohol in her system, which caused her body to go into shock and shutdown while she was sleeping. “Kids who do not know their limits can drink to the point of alcohol poisoning, and those who feel invincible — as many at that age do — may underestimate the danger of getting behind the wheel” (Ogilvie 1). They end up drinking way too much, which can lead to unsafe repercussions. Being under the influence makes a person a lot more vulnerable. They are not able to control themselves and sometimes may not even know what is going on around them.
The reason this happens so frequently is because teens tend to binge drink. “Underage drinkers drink on fewer occasions, but when they drink they are more likely to binge drink” (Wechsler 1). People who are 21 and older tend to drink at a more tolerable pace. They don’t just drink and drink and become belligerently intoxicated. They are more mature than teenagers under the age of 18 and know how to handle themselves without pushing it to the limit. A major controversy is drinking and driving. “About 29% of teen drivers killed in auto crashes in 2002 had been drinking” (Triplett 1).
Young teenagers do not think about the consequences of consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel. They are already faced with the responsibility of becoming a new driver. By lowering the legal alcohol age, teenagers now have another thing to worry about. By exposing them to these two new things, one being drinking and the other being driving, they are less likely to know how to handle both responsibilities at the same time. Keeping the legal drinking age at 21 not only saves the lives of individuals, but it also saves the lives of the public.
“Half of the people who die in traffic crashes involving underage drinking drivers are people other than the drinking drivers” (Hamilton 1). “My name is Jessica Rasdall, and on Feb. 25, 2006, I killed my best friend”, says Jessica, an 18 year old at the time of the accident. Jessica and her best friend went out to a club, had a few drinks, and then decided to take the wheel while under the influence. Jessica, being the driver, ended up surviving the crash, but had to live with the fact that she killed her best friend, since kindergarten, because she decided to drive intoxicated.
Killing others because of a stupid mistake can stick with someone for the rest of their life. All of these fatalities can easily be prevented if teens don’t drive while under the influence, not that they should be illegally drinking anyway. “Since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 rose the drinking age to 21 in all 50 states, roads have become safer and kids have delayed the onset of drinking” (Ogilvie 1). It is already known that underage drinking is a big deal in America. By lowering the legal drinking age, it makes it a lot easier for high school students and other teens to obtain alcohol from their friends.
If the drinking age were to be lowered, not all states would agree, only making certain states lower the age. This is even more dangerous because then it forces teenagers to drive into those states and then drive home drunk. “Some also argue that the drinking age should be kept at 21 because the brain doesn’t finish maturing until around age 25” (Ogilvie 1). If the brain isn’t fully developed, then teenagers’ brain will not grow as it is supposed to. “This may lead to permanent health damage, or even death” (Alcohol 1). “Alcohol is nothing less than poison for the teen brain” (Alcohol 1).
The brain changes when alcohol is consumed at such an early age and it inhibits teens from expanding their knowledge. “Short-term or moderate drinking impairs learning and memory far more in youths than adults. Adolescents only need to drink half as much alcohol as adults do to suffer the same negative effects, though research finds that teens typically drink more than older adults when consuming alcohol” (Alcohol 1). Young teenagers tend to feel like they can do anything, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol being one of them.
Drinking an adult under the table is an accomplishment and their excuse usually is, “oh well, I’m young”. Also, long-term abuse of alcohol at such a young age can develop into alcoholism in the long run. Becoming an alcoholic can completely ruin your life. Those people tend to lose their jobs, friends, and family, leaving them with no support other than alcohol. “The people who were experiencing drinking-related problems at 18 -which included things like getting into a fight or having school problems due to alcohol use -were more likely to be diagnosed with alcoholism at age 25” (Teen 1).
Alcoholics mainly use this substance to cope with their life struggles and their dependence on it is too strong to stop. On the other hand, some people think that the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18. They feel that if people are allowed to fight for their country at age 18, then they should be able to legally consume alcohol as well. “In Alaska, a bill was recently introduced that would allow active members of the military to drink at the age of 18, with the rationale that if they’re old enough to fight and die for their country, they’re old enough to have a beer” (Ogilvie 1).
Although this argument is very valid, it should not be the reason that the alcohol age is going to be lowered. Soliders are there to fight for our country and save our lives, not drink alcohol. “Also, when you prohibit drinking legally, it pushes it into places that are uncontrolled, like fraternity houses. These are places that promote drinking games and excessive, rapid consumption of alcohol, which puts people in danger of getting alcohol poisoning, and that can be fatal” (Ogilvie 1). Some people believe that reason alone is good enough to lower the legal drinking age, but their accusation isn’t accurate.
No matter what age people will be allowed to legally drink, there will still always be fraternity houses and the traditional college drinking games. It’s a way to interact with each other at parties, which is irrelevant to the issue of lowering the legal drinking age. Although it may be socially acceptable in other countries to consume alcohol at such a young age, it does not mean lowering the drinking age in America should be justified. Children see alcohol as such a positive thing, but they are not old enough to make the decision about whether or not they should be drinking.
They don’t think about how they are too young and their brains are underdeveloped. Simply because their parents drink doesn’t mean that they are qualified to make the decision to drink. Teens are peer pressured into thinking that alcohol is a typical thing to do at that age. In reality, after they experience the effects of alcohol, they realize that it’s not such a great thing. Little did they know that it causes traffic fatalities, brain damage, binge drinking, and other affects that are detrimental to their life. Works Cited “Early Alcohol Consumption Puts Youth at Risk.
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Wechsler, Henry, PhD., and Toben F. Nelson ScD. “Will Increasing Alcohol Availability by Lowering the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Decrease Drinking and Related Consequences among Youths? ” American Journal of Public Health 100. 6 (2010): 986-92. ProQuest. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. Triplett, William. “Teen Driving. ” CQ Researcher 7 Jan. 2005: 1-24. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. Hamilton, Wendy J. “Efforts to Stop Underage Drunk Driving Must Be Increased. ” Cars in America. Ed. Andrea C. Nakaya. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “testimony before the U. S.
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