Why the Drinking Age Should Remain 21
Over the past few decades, there has been wide controversy concerning the topic of the legal drinking age in the United States and whether or not twenty-one should be lowered back to eighteen as it was before 1984. The problem arises in the dangers of drinking that have been studied over the years and have shown very few positive effects on the human body through the stages of human development. Additionally, under age drinking and drunk driving was becoming a major issue across the United States, which needed to be changed for the safety of the general public. Safety, being the main concern of the law makers, led to the final decision of raising the drinking age, which in turn, created an environment free from danger. Since President Reagan raised the drinking age in 1984, statistics on drunk driving deaths as well as deaths by alcohol poisoning has gone down significantly raising the question: why would the legal age to drink be lowered if more lives are being saved with the current law? The issue that circulates society today is to reassure the general public that the drinking age has to stay at twenty-one and does not need to be lowered back to eighteen.
The legal drinking age of twenty-one as drastically lowered the death toll to drunk drivers and drivers who are involved in the intoxicated accident. Alcohol that is difficult to access for underage drinkers creates an increased alcohol free environment. Throughout the 1970s, when the legal drinking age was eighteen years old, the alcohol related deaths to drivers was sixty percent. After 1984, when the drinking age was raised to twenty-one, the amount of deaths between the ages of sixteen and twenty decreased by over thirty percent. Between the years of 1984 and 2001, over 150,000 lives have been saved in accidents that involved drinking and driving. Raising the legal drinking age in the United States has proved to have done a lot for the general public so it would be unethical to lower the drinking age back down to irresponsible eighteen year olds.
When a human is still developing through the early stages in his or her life, drinking alcohol too early combined with the high amounts consumed can have detrimental effects to the human brain. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the human brain continues to mature through the early to mid-twenties of a human’s life and alcohol can affect the structure as well as the function of the brain. During adolescence, the human brain can be affected in many parts such as the cerebral cortex, the central nervous system and the frontal lobe, due to under aged drinking. The cerebral cortex of the brain is one of the main areas of concern in adolescence as alcohol drastically lower its functionality, affecting the drinker’s senses as they grow older. Alcohol is associated with central nervous system so the drinks the drinker intakes slowly decreases the person’s ability to speak, move and think. The frontal lobe is greatly affected when the persons begins to consume alcohol. Frontal lobes are responsible for important decision making actions such as forming thoughts and ideas and using one’s self control. Consuming alcohol for extended periods of time can permanently affect the frontal lobes. One can argue that the affects on these parts on the brain are minuscule and virtually go unnoticeable but in the long run, drinking at a younger age than eighteen will eventually show degrading qualities in the human brain. Creating consistent and minuscule detrimental effects to the brain over a long and constant period of time will slowly degrade the overall performance of the maturing brain of an adolescent who drinks alcohol throughout their development stages. (NIAAA)
Turning the age of twenty-one is just another initiation into the world of being an adult. There has been much controversy regarding the fact that when a person turns eighteen, they become an adult meaning they should be allowed to make their own decisions without scrutiny. While turning the age of eighteen creates more opportunities in life, this does not necessarily mean that the person should be able to do anything they want; there has to be restrictions the set the ground rules to keep the general public safe. As we all know, growing up comes with great responsibility. We go through our teenage years waiting for the day we turn sixteen so we can finally get our license to drive on the road. This is known to be the first rite of passage that gets us through each day, knowing that we always have something to look forward to in the future. eighteen becomes the next stage in our lives where we are open to more possibilities such as being able to vote, marry without the consent of a parent, serve on juries, and join the military. This age is determined by how the adolescent is maturing and how as we mature, we are able to making the right and conscious decisions to the best of our ability. Throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, it was clear that these conscious and correct decisions were not being made when it came to the use of alcohol. The fatalities that were occurring due to the use of alcohol kept on rising which alarmed the president and the public. Just as every opportunity comes, it can easily be taken away. The reason why the drinking age was raised was because the maturing adolescent could not handle the opportunity responsible. Ever since the age was increased, the public and the adolescences have created a safer and less dangerous environment.
The drinking age continues to be a widely controversial issue throughout the United States and there are compelling views to both sides of the argument to reduce the legal age and keeping it as is. What we have to focus on solely is based on the amount of lives saved due to the lack of drunk drivers on the road as well as alcohol related deaths. Since 1984, there has be nothing but positive impacts the drinking age has created being twenty-one years old. This argument does not come down to the fact that eighteen year olds are responsible adults, it comes down to how we treat our privileges in society and how any privilege can be taken away if they are abused. In retrospect, looking at the the negative impacts of alcohol to the drinker will always, in the long run, trump the positives.