Posted: March 24th, 2023
Title: How drinking age affects a society
Thesis: The minimum drinking age has had a positive impact on society, owing to the fact that it has reduced the rates of alcohol-related traffic mortalities and morbidities, and has a positive impact on individuals drinking patterns in later life.
How Drinking Age Affects a Society
Drinking age refers to the minimum age at which alcoholic beverages may be purchased and consumed legally. The topic of minimum legal drinking age has raised heated debates in the United States for the last few decades. The existing controversy started in the early 1970s, when the constitution was amended to extend the right to vote to be between eighteen and twenty one years. The constitutional amendment was passed by Congress and was sanctioned by various states. Barely three years since the endorsement of the bill, all fifty states had drawn-out that the legal age at which individuals would be involved in voting during state elections was eighteen years, which is a phase that is popularly known as the “age of majority”. Consequently, this was followed by half of the states lowering the minimum drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen. However, the trend towards reducing the legal drinking age went into a random stop when sufficient evidence began to mount up that reduced drinking age was causing a detrimental impact on the society. Since the passing of the bill that prohibited people under the age of twenty-one from purchasing alcoholic beverages in 1984, the minimum drinking age has been a hotly contested topic (Liebschutz, 1985). Some people feel that the minimum age should be reduced to eighteen years because this is an age that is characterized by teenagers practically considering themselves as adults. At this age, individuals are given the right to marry, can vote during federal elections and can join the military among other tasks performed by adults. Individuals against lowering the minimum drinking age, on the other hand, argue that at eighteen, teenagers have not yet attained the maturity that can guarantee them to handle alcoholic beverages responsibly, which is harmful to themselves and society. Therefore, the endeavors of this paper is to show that the minimum drinking age of twenty one has had a positive impact on society because it has reduced the rates of alcohol-related traffic mortalities and morbidities as well as positively impacted on individuals’ drinking patterns later in life.
Arguments for the 21-year-old minimum age
It would be medically irresponsible
One of the main reasons why individuals oppose the lowering of the minimum drinking age is because they think it would be clinically irresponsible. Numerous studies have provided sufficient evidence that early onset of consumption of alcohol can have detrimental impacts on the brain development of young persons (Carpenter & Dobkin, 2011). Some of the areas that are likely to be affected are the frontal lobes that play very critical roles in the manner in which emotions are regulated, planned, and organized. When these brain parts of a young adult are interfered with by alcohol consumption, it can cause a wide range of chronic problems such as depression, memory loss, lowered decision-making abilities, and susceptibility to alcohol addiction, as well as violence to name but a few. Not only does it cause adverse impacts to the young individuals, but also to the society in general, a situation that proponents to maintain that the drinking age should not be lowered.
It reduces the rates of mortality and morbidity
The second argument is that the legal drinking age of twenty-one reduces mortality for those below the age of twenty-one and to other members of society. Studies have shown that ever since the time the drinking age was raised to twenty-one, the numbers of alcohol related traffic accidents have reduced significantly. In fact, numerous meta-studies of drinking age and road accidents have indicated that higher minimum legal drinking age is associated with reduced rates of road accidents. It has also been estimated that the minimum legal drinking age of twenty one has been of numerous benefits to society as it has reduced the rates of fatal traffic accidents for those under twenty one as well as other population.
Reduces the vulnerability to becoming alcoholics in later life
A Study has shown that the earlier the age at which a person starts taking alcohol, the more the possibility that they will go through alcohol dependency as well as other alcohol related problems in their adult life (Kaestner & Yarnoff, 2011). In fact, a significant body of literature shows that there is no major difference in the range at which individuals who start consuming alcohol between the ages 18, 19, 20 and 21 develop alcohol associated problems in their later life. However, the various studies have indicated that early onset of consumption of alcohol is correlated with alcohol dependency and alcohol abuse in later adult life, which is harmful to both the alcohol consumer and society.
Arguments against the drinking age of twenty-one
It is an Infringement of the Age of Majority
Eighteen years is the age at which individuals are considered as adults not only in the United States, but also in other parts of the world. Indeed, upon attaining the age of 18, individuals are given the right to engage in political elections, smoke cigarettes, be prosecuted when they violate the law, get married, as well as join the military operations, which are things that risk an individual’s life. Therefore, because they are considered as adults, they should be given the right to make their own informed decisions, including that of alcohol consumption.
Lowers the Thrill of Infringing the Law
Human beings have a tendency to touch the forbidden fruit, despite knowing the implications, which is referred to as the “forbidden fruit syndrome” by psychologists. If individuals aged 18 years are permitted to use alcoholic beverages, they will not contemplate violating the law to prove a point or just to get their way through (Kaestner & Yarnoff, 2011). This can significantly reduce the mounting rates of non-compliance with the drinking age, which causes young people to procure fake identity cards, thus purposefully violating the law.
Lower the Peril of Drinking in Risky Environments
Some people believe that banning the use of alcohol until the age of twenty-one prompts people to crave for it more, which is a factor that causes young people to enjoy alcoholic beverages in more risky environments; for instance, in the fraternity houses (Herring et al, 2008). Therefore, allowing them to consume alcohol at a younger age will offer opportunities for parents as well as other members of society to ensure that they drink in regulated areas, which would decrease engagement in unsafe and dangerous activities.
Impact of Drinking Age to Society
Effect on Alcohol Consumption
Drinking age laws have been shown to have a significant impact in reducing alcohol related problems. Estimating the impact of drinking age necessitates one to compare and contrast the patterns of alcoholic beverage consumption and harmful event rates of people under the minimum drinking age subject to the ruling with other people in the same age group who are not subjected to it. Studies aimed at assessing the relationship between drinking age and consumption indicated that the legal drinking age is squarely linked to lower alcoholic beverage consumption in young adults, especially those below twenty-one years of age (Herring, Berridge, & Thom, 2008). These findings show that a society that has a higher minimum drinking age falls at a lower risk of young generations to become alcoholics and experience the social ills associated with alcohol consumption.
Drinking age and Traffic Fatalities
The minimum drinking age has been shown to be effective in reducing the rates of traffic accidents; hence, being of major importance to the wellbeing of the society. Young adults under the age of twenty-one who engage in binge drinking are more likely to engage in a wide range of perilous behaviors that would expose them to other risks (Keng & Huffman, 2010). For instance, they are more likely to drive while drunk, which is a factor that increases their risks of engaging in fatal road accidents. They are also at a higher risk of riding with other drunk drivers and forget to wear safety belts. Higher minimum drinking age has had numerous benefits to society and individuals because it significantly reduces the rates of traffic fatalities and accidents. In fact, drinking age and other intervention measures have been effective in lowering the rates of impaired driving, car crashes, as well as fatalities that result from drinking and driving. It has also altered the norms associated with driving while under the influence of alcohol (Asch & Levy, 1987). In our contemporary society, driving while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited, a situation that has caused an increase in designated drivers and reduced drunk drivers drastically.
Drinking age and overall well-being of society
Every person acknowledges the adverse health impact that early onset of alcohol use has on individuals. It causes social problems as well as various health issues. Not only does alcohol consumption cause social issues such as violence, but it also has a major influence on the brain development of young people. The short-term effect of alcohol on teenagers’ brain development is that it is impaired in greater levels as compared to adults. In fact, it causes impairment of memory recovery and lowers the memory printing capabilities (Taffe et al, 2010). This means that young adults will have problems when recalling the events that happened while they were drunk. The long-term effects are deficits in cognitive capacities as well as in learning and the memory. Drinking age has been effective in preventing these ills from occurring in our society because many people are now starting to take alcoholic beverages when they attain the legalized age.
The topic of the legal drinking age has stirred up heated debates ever since its enactment in 1984. Many people assume that since individuals are considered as adults upon attaining the age of 18, then they should be given the right to purchase and consume alcohol at this particular age. Others hold that at 18, teenagers have not yet reached an age where they can be considered as mature enough to handle alcohol responsibly. The minimum drinking age of twenty-one has had a positive impact on society, owing to the fact that it has reduced the rates of alcohol-related traffic mortalities and morbidities, and has caused a positive impact on individuals drinking patterns in later life. Future studies should evaluate the correlation between levels of consumption and drinking age.
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