The Alcohol Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered


Every day we are bombarded with messages about alcohol. Information from all sources: school, parents, friends, commercials, music, newspapers, and magazines. But, sometimes thereís so much information itís hard to figure out whatís true and whatís not. There are many opinions involving the minimum drinking age in our current community. Some people say that the minimum drinking age (21 years) should be lowered but have they ever considered what will happen if it is changed? So today Iím going to show you a few reasons why 21 is the minimum drinking age and why I think it should not be lowered. Some folks think that 21 was just a number pulled out of air, but despite of what you may think, there are some pretty good reasons that age 21 was selected by congress.


Alcohol affects you. You get one chance in your whole life to grow to your maximum potential. We all hear about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking, but most of us know very little about how alcohol affects the brains of young people. First we should look at what we do know about young brains, like the fact that they will not finish developing until a person is around 20 years old. One of the last regions of the brain that matures is the ability to plan and make complex judgments. The young brain is also at its highest learning capacity. These are the prime years for memory and learning but alcohol can seriously impair brain functions on which we rely on so heavily everyday. This means when drinking while youíre brain is still growing, donít be surprised when youíre coordination, balance, concentration, reflexes, vision, reason, and judgment take a turn for the worse over the long run.


Not only can alcohol damage the brain but other important internal organs we need. The liver filters blood, but can only metabolize alcohol at a limited rate. Excess alcohol invades liver cells and this can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and cancer. Alcohol can make a person sick to their stomach increasing the chance of ulcers and other problems in the stomach. And it can overwork the heart leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.


Now if youíve heard it once, youíve heard it a million times, drinking and driving is a deadly combination for all ages. Jim Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board researched the number of car crashes involving underage drinking and the results were huge. He found that in 1987 alone, 1,701 lives were saved due to the National Minimum Purchase Age Act (placed in 1984) and the numbers were growing. The Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Association also reported that not only have alcohol-related crash fatalities among young drivers decreased. The number of DWI arrests, youth suicides, marijuana use, crime, and alcohol consumption by youth has significantly been improving. To make this example a little more personal, if each of you had 20 people in your family and it represented your own little country. Letís say the drinking age was 18 and the time period was five years. 3 of them would be dead or seriously injured in an alcohol related accident, 7 of them would be become dependent on alcohol by age 20, 5 of them would be in some sort of trouble related to alcohol, 3 of them will only experience alcohol once or twice in their lifetime, and the last two are undetermined. Now if you blew that up to a larger scale, thatís pretty big.


Another issue is abuse. The New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse reports that the younger a person begins using alcohol, the greater the chance of developing alcohol dependence or abuse some time in their life. If a person waits until age 21 before taking their first drink, they will decrease these chances by over 60%. So even though you may think youíre old enough to drink publicly, you should probably think again.


The minimum drinking age is already at 21, and in my opinion, itís a very appropriate age to start experiencing alcohol. There are a lot of little things you can do as an individual to help keep yourself