The minimum legal drinking age should not be lowered to 18. Even at 21 the brain isn’t fully developed, so lowering the drinking age to 18 would be dangerous and medically irresponsible. There would be an increase in binge drinking due to a lack of impulse control in those whose brains aren’t fully developed. There would also be more unsafe and illegal drinking activity, as well as more fatal accidents and dangerous behavior caused by being intoxicated.
Lowering the minimum legal drinking age would be medically irresponsible. The brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, and even then some people’s brains develop slower and aren’t fully developed until the early 30’s. Alcohol has an extremely dangerous effect on the brain that can be even more dangerous if the brain is not fully developed. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center studied the effects of alcohol on young adults ranging from 21 to 30 years old. They found that alcohol impaired learning and memory in the younger adults more than the older ones. Alcohol affects the parts of the brain that control thought processing, consciousness, movement, balance, hormones, and automatic brain functions such as breathing. This is why it is unsafe to drive after drinking. Alcohol affects how quickly a person can react and how well a person can function. A study in 2002 showed that MLDA 21 produced fewer traffic accidents. 98% of the analyses show that a higher drinking age results in less fatal accidents caused to drunk driving. With MLDA 18, people would be able to legally drink at an age where impulse control isn’t at its best. This means that that younger people drinking are more likely to drink more than they should and build up their tolerance to alcohol. The more they drink, the more tolerant they will become. Then they will need to continue to consume more and more amounts of alcohol to produce the same feeling of intoxication. Tolerance leads to heavy drinking which can eventually lead to alcohol-dependence or alcoholism. MLDA 18 would evidently increase the amount of binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Also, if 18-yer-olds are allowed to buy alcohol, then it would be easier for teenagers to get their hands on alcohol because they could just have their friends or family members of legal age buy it for them. This would increase illegal and unsafe drinking activity. “Consuming alcohol has proved to make males more virile and females more sexually attractive.” This affect can lead to risky or criminal sexual activity such as unprotected sex or rape. Teens who average five or more drinks daily are three times less likely to use a condom, and 16% of teens who drink use a condom less often after having consumed alcohol. Alcohol use is implicated in two-thirds of sexual assault and date rape cases among teens and college students.
Some may argue that lowering the drinking age and allowing 18 to 20-year olds to buy alcohol would benefit the economy by increasing revenue of private business and increasing the amount of tax revenue collected by the government. However, MLDA 18 would create an easier way for underage drinkers to get alcohol. Every year, middle school and high school students drink 1.1 million cans of beer and 35% of all wine coolers sold in America. Two-thirds of those teens say they are able to buy their own alcohol. If that many teens are able to get alcohol with MLDA 21, then just imagine how many more teens would be able to get alcohol with MLDA 18. It would also allow 18 to 20-year-olds to go to bars and nightclubs which are unsafe environments. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 15,000 Americans are treated each year for intentional poisoning. The typical victims are at nightclubs and bars where they are drugged then raped, assaulted, or robbed. In 60% of those cases, the people involved had been consuming alcohol. Studies have also shown that 58-85% of bar sales were illegal “sales to obviously intoxicated patrons”. This proves that bars and nightclubs aren’t the “safe, regulated environments” most people assume they are. There are a lot of risks that come with drinking in these environments that should not be available for 18 to 20-year-olds. Others may say that since 18 is the age of adulthood, 18-year-olds should be given the right to choose to drink just like they can choose to vote or join the army. Although this is true that 18 is the age adulthood, it is not a constitutional right to drink at 18, so; therefore, they do not have a choice in that matter. Also, the age should be kept at 21 due to the dangers of drinking.
The NIAAA has made it a priority for future research to focus on studying alcoholism and trying to find a cure for it. Until then, it would be in the best interest of America to keep MLDA 21 to keep the risk of young adults becoming alcoholics to a minimum and reduce the dangers of underage drinking. I personally do not have a want or need to consume alcohol until of legal age, and hopefully I can influence other teenagers to do the same. Those under 21 need to understand and be aware of the dangers and long-term effects of drinking, especially before the brain is fully developed. I feel there should be more awareness raised in school. Schools have health classes and awareness weeks, but the dangers and risks of consuming alcohol should be enforced more than just one week of the year or one unit of a class. The younger the age alcohol is consumed, the higher the risk and dangers of consuming it. MLDA 21 will help to keep America safer. MLDA 18 has too many risks and should not be considered a responsible drinking age.