Underage alcohol consumption detrimental to teen development

by TYLER YORK//Online Editor

Lowering the drinking age means blatantly ignoring a potential increase in traffic deaths and a severe decline in public safety.

The idea of reducing the drinking age from 21 to 18 has been hotly debated in this country. But in reality, the choice has already been made. Many intelligent minds have taken evidence into account that 21 years of age is a reasonable limit to set for alcohol consumption. But looking past that, there are several other important points that make a higher drinking age necessary.

Being cautious to lower the drinking age isn’t just a matter of puritanical values or “the man” keeping young adults down. But I can understand how many in their position could see it that way. We all know there are plenty of teens out there who consume alcohol regularly anyway, so what’s the difference, right? But there is a real concern, based on scientific research in countries that chose to reduce the drinking age, that doing so in the United States will result in more traffic deaths involving intoxicated minors.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has shown that around 900 lives are saved every year as a direct result of the current higher drinking age, meaning fewer traffic accidents involving underage drunk drivers. This statistic alone shows clearly that lowering the age limit means not only will there almost certainly be more fatal accidents involving young people, it will be even easier, and, in fact, legal, for them to acquire the substance that will lead to an early death.

A major argument in favor of reducing the drinking age is the idea that the current age limit is unfair, with so many other legal age limits set at the age of 18. Legally, this is the age when someone can be tried in court as an adult. It’s also the legal limit applied to several other activities, such as purchasing tobacco products, gambling, and registering to vote. Men turning 18 are even required by law to sign up for selective service in the military.

So many would ask: why is it fair to make the drinking age arbitrarily different than these other activities?

The truth is there is no magical threshold that, once crossed, a person automatically and officially becomes an adult. Each person matures differently, and our society does its very best to make attempts at setting up emergent adults for success. Young minds still have a lot of growing and developing to do, even up to the early-to-mid-20s. Alcohol, more so than other legal drugs, reacts with your body in a way that can be harmful to that development process. It can significantly impair the judgment centers of a much older adult, not to mention a teenager with parts of a brain that haven’t even completely matured yet.

I understand there are many teens nearing the 18-year-old mark who would likely prefer their rights to include legal booze. But there’s really no harm in waiting. And it’s clear to anyone who cares to look that there’s a great deal of harm in allowing alcohol use earlier than teens are capable of handling it.


Lowering drinking age causes fewer problems

by CHANISE RAY//Staff Writer

If being 18 makes you an adult in the public’s eyes, then that should be the legal drinking age.

As everyone knows, in some states in America, the legal drinking age is 21. However, it was not always this way. The legal drinking age some years ago was 18. It also so was the age required to vote and the age to get drafted into the United States Army.

However, that was a very long time ago. Some countries, such as Spain, Australia, and China, among others, have the legal drinking age of 18. Other countries, such as Italy, Germany, Switzerland, have a drinking age that is even lower, at just 16.

Countries with lower drinking ages allegedly have fewer instances of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and less binge drinking, which is a big problem in America. Since alcohol is illegal to drink for people under 21, young adults have to obtain alcohol from parties, which usually happen on the weekends. Sometimes, when people get to those parties, they tend to drink a lot because they aren’t used to drinking alcohol. So they don’t know their limits. That can lead to black outs, alcohol poisoning, and even drunk driving. Teenagers always want what they cannot have. If you just let them have it, they won’t want it so much and all the time.

How are 18 year olds allowed to vote, go to war, and even go to college, which is especially stressful for me, but they are not allowed to go to a bar and drink a beer? Not that I am condoning stress drinking, but those are very grown-up things that people my age go through. Some people may say, “you’re only three years away, just wait your turn.” But, people forget how they were when they were this age. This wait seems too long for an 18-19 year old.

I am not old enough to drink. But, yes, I’ve tasted wine a few times, and I am not talking about just in church. Drinking is not essential for me in order to have fun at a party, but being as socially awkward as I am, it does help. Since 18 year olds are not legally allowed to drink, they usually binge drink at parties or other events that they want to have fun at. This is especially harmful to the body, because it could cause alcohol poisoning and long-term liver damage. In other countries, teenagers can get alcohol all the time, so there is no reason for binge drinking. I do think hard liquor is too mature for someone my age. I think the drinks with less alcohol should be legal for teenagers. Most adults don’t drink them anyway, so someone has to.

Overall, the legal drinking age should be lowered for many reasons, but mostly to teach moderation. Once you are able to have something, you stop wanting it all the time. At least that is what happens to me. My nanna always tells me, “I just like to drink whiskey before bed to go to sleep, ” and “I won’t drink any other time.” She’s about 80 something, so I think she’s doing pretty well, and she started drinking at a very young age. Maybe one day America will get with the program and follow in the footsteps of Italy, bringing the drinking age down for good.

Posted by Plainsman Press Staff

The student newspaper of South Plains College.

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