Lowering the Drinking Age Would Be Disastrous

Natalie Meins, Staff Writer

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Lowering the drinking age to 18 would have many negative consequences. Not only would there be a significant increase in illegal underage alcohol consumption, but there would be lasting effects that could follow these people for the rest of their lives. Keeping the drinking age at 21 would serve as a deterrent for teenagers considering drinking.

 

In 1999, New Zealand lowered the national drinking age from 20 years to 18 years of age. As expected, the amount of alcohol intake among adults ages 18 and up increased dramatically; a rise in alcohol-related vehicular crashes were also recorded in ages as low as 15. Fatalities in such accidents were not uncommon. Similar results have been seen in other countries where the drinking age is lower. Lowering the drinking age has, in short, benefited no one. Lowering the legal age for alcohol consumption to 18 would only harm, and the supposed benefits are very temporary. Likewise, raising the age to 25, as some have proposed, is also counter-intuitive for many reasons.

 

Every year, approximately 5,000 underage people die from drinking illegally in the United States. In light of this, keeping the drinking age at 21 might seem illogical; wouldn’t fewer people die if it was no longer legal for them to consume alcohol? The fact of the matter is, no matter what the legal age, young people will always find a way to evade the system. Underage drinking has been and always will be a problem.

 

However, it is an issue that can be tempered by keeping 21 as the legal age for drinking. If it were lowered, younger people that are still underage would be influenced, and would likely start drinking even if they would not have done so had 21 been the age standard. In Europe, where the drinking age is generally between ages 16 and 18, they have faced many problems related to misuse of alcohol by minors.

 

Binge drinking, already a huge problem in colleges and high-schools, would also increase dramatically. Although having a legal drinking age of 21 cannot totally eradicate illegal alcoholic activity, it is a useful deterrent that has proven to be effective.  New Zealand lowered the drinking age, they suffered the severe consequences such as an increase in fatalities and vehicular accidents.

 

Not only would lowering the age to 18 be a disastrous decision, but raising it would be as well, for much the same reasons. People ages 21 to 24, used to drinking legally, would have a very hard time conforming to the new rule of drinking only when they turn 25. Also, once again, there would certainly be more illegal activity. As stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, when young people drink illegally, they are much more prone to binge drinking due to both inexperience and a want to prove themselves. This is most common in frats and sororities, where hazing is a constant problem. And according to the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, binge drinking, or an overdose of alcohol, causes brain development in teens to be stunted, which effects them for the rest of their lives. The younger the consumer, the quicker their blood alcohol level rises. These kids end up with many brain-related issues such as impeding their memory, learning ability, and decision making, causing it to be much more difficult for them to interact in the learning world.

 

In short, lowering the drinking age to 18 would have disastrous results.

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