Should the drinking age in the US be lowered to 18?

Shouldthe drinking age in the US be lowered to 18?

Thelegal age of adults in the United States, just as other countries, is18 years. However, despite being adults, people are not allowed todrink alcohol until they are 21 years old. The drinking age in theUnited States was always 21 until the Vietnam War when some statesallowed the sale and consumption of alcohol for teenagers aged 18years and above. During these years, many cases of car fatalitiesamong the teens in the mission of drinking were reported.Additionally, this patchwork of laws led to increased problems ofstate borders as teens would move to the states that allowed them todrink. This continued on until 1984 when the government decided tomake the drinking uniform for all states (Maisto, Mark and Gerard127). However, this news has not been received well by some acrossthe country. There are so many people who are advocating for loweringof the legal drinking age to 18 years. On the other hand, others feelthat this law should pursue because it stops teens from irresponsiblealcohol drinking. The debate on whether to reduce the legal age fordrinking alcohol is heated and draws a lot of attention from thepublic as well as the lawmakers. From several analyses, it is clearthat the minimum age should be lowed to the adult age, but withrestrictions and education on responsible drinking.

Prolowering of drinking age

Whena person attains the age of 18 years, he or she is regarded as anadult. The same case should apply to drinking. Adults who haveattained the age of 18 years should be given the recognition andrights that they deserve as adults. A person who is 18 years isallowed to vote, fight for her country, and possibly do otheractivities that are not allowed for children less than 18 years.These people are allowed to smoke and fill their lungs with dangerouschemicals, but not to drink or go for wine tasting. Adults arelegible for their actions and should therefore be given anopportunity to drink. If a person can fight for her country, it isunimaginable why he or she should be denied a chance to drink(Drinking Age

Itis also notable that, despite that the minimum age for alcoholconsumption is 21 many people under this age take alcohol. In fact,the age restriction thing drives many young people to try theforbidden fruit. At this age, teens are curious to learn new thingsespecially those that are prohibited. The more it is forbidden, themore they want to try and find out what is so special about it.Others feel that breaking this law is ‘cool.’ Many teenagers whobreak the law try to show others that they are better than them andcan break the law and get away with it. They also want to prove thatthey are brave and ready for anything. This makes them want to drinkeven more because it is illegal. This means that the illegal part ofit makes drinking more attractive to the teens (Engs).

Otherspoint out that lowering the drinking age would help in eliminatingthe thrilling effects of drinking that comes at the age of 21. Whenpeople finally attain the age of 21, they are more than willing todrink alcohol to greater extents in an attempt to prove that they areadults and are free to do as they please. This explains why there isso much clubbing among the college students. They rush to drinkingwith so much passion such that they are willing to club every otherweekend or day. It would be much easier for such people to startdrinking moderately at the age of 18 so that they can get used tothis kind of freedom.

Makingalcohol consumption illegal up to the age of 21 will not dissuadepeople between the ages of 18 to 21 to indulge in reckless drinking.In any case, this will only encourage them to indulge in bingedrinking, where people consume too much alcohol within a short periodof time hence, intoxication. A young adult who is prohibited fromdrinking by the law may try his or her best to make use of theavailable opportunity to drink. Obliviously, a young adult below theage of 21 is prohibited from taking alcohol in many places. Thismakes them desperate to find means of attaining alcohol at allpossible costs. Such chances may be rare hence, whenever they get achance, they indulge in binge drinking (U.S. News). The excitement ofutilizing the available opportunity drives them to indulge inexcessive consumption of alcohol that can even lead to poisoning. Assuch, it is prudent to teach these young people the importance ofdrinking moderately once they attain the age of 18 years. It mightgive them a chance to drink responsibly and without creating too muchexcitement

Thelaw on alcohol consumption drives teens to hide when taking alcoholso that their parents and the relevant authorities are not aware ofit. Being less open to parents only makes things worse in case ofalcohol poisoning or getting home safe. In such cases, some youngadults may develop some complications but choose to keep quitebecause of the fear of their parents and the possible consequences.Others may opt to drive home on their own rather than calling someoneto drive them home when drunk. This increases the chances for causingaccidents in the roads (Solohub 104). It would be much safer if thesepeople had an opportunity to call someone to take them home safelywithout being reprimanded.

Againstlowering of drinking age

Onthe other hand, scientific data proves that alcohol, especially whentaken at a young age, has a great capacity for damaging thedevelopment of a brain functionally, cognitive, and emotionally(Impacts of alcohol on the developing brain). This means thatallowing young adults to consume alcohol would interfere with theiroverall health. The body of a young person is not yet fullydeveloped hence, it is good to give it some time to develop fullybefore engaging in alcohol consumption. It is also not certain thatallowing them to drink will help teens to drink moderately. This isan experimental age thus, allowing these young adults to drink willmake alcohol more accessible for them to practice even binge drinkingwithout fear. All young people who like experimenting in new thingswould soon engage in reckless drinking that damages their braindevelopment in myriad ways. As such, it is wise to wait for a littlebit more for them to grow fully before engaging in alcoholconsumption.

Additionally,we cannot ignore that fact that most people reach the age of 18 yearsbefore finishing the senior high school. This means that allowingpeople aged 18 years to drink would be the same as allowing majorityof people in senior high school to engage in alcohol consumptionhabits. This would make alcohol accessible in high schools wheremajority of people have not attained the legal age. The youngerschoolmates may be tempted to take alcohol as well. This problem mayspread to the whole school community thus, posing danger of peopleunderage to start drinking. It would be very devastating to seechildren as young as 14 years taking alcohol because it is availed tothem by their seniors. Those who would like to prove themselves tothe seniors and look cool are likely to engage in illegal consumptionof alcohol at quite a tender age.

Whenthe drinking age was lowered back in the 1980s, there was asignificant increase in the level of teen drinking and driving. Thiswas one of the reasons why the government thought it would be goodfor them to reduce the age of alcohol consumption. Since then, thenumber of drunk driving fatalities among teens reduced noticeably.Although it can be argued that the safety belts contributed much tothe decrease in car fatalities, most of the young people who died inroad clashes were victims of drunk driving. Any measure, no matterhow minimal it may seem, initiated with the aim of saving livesshould be supported as long as it hurts no one. The government isdoing this for the wellbeing of young people who are likely to fallvictim of drunk driving (Nagin). Most young people below the age of21 are likely to novice drivers who cannot adequately control avehicle when drunk. Therefore, increasing the minimum age for alcoholconsumption was a wise step with reference to this argument.

Alcoholconsumption is also highly associated with violent or destructivebehavior. People who start drinking at early age are more likely toengage in delinquent behavior that is harmful to their health andothers as well. Such people have a high chance of engaging in riskysexual behaviors drug abuse, improper cognitive development, andacademic failure. Majority of homicide offenders and sexual offenderscommit these offenses under the influence of alcohol. Having in mindthat teen age is associated with a high rate of destructive behavior,it is only wise not to allow them to drink. There is considerateevidence that alcohol is a date rape drug. The number of people thatare involved in date rapes admitted to be under the influence ofalcohol. Teens have no control over alcohol consumption and are morelikely to engage in many offenses (Hanson, Peter and Annette 67).

Itis prevalent that despite the age limitation, many young peopleengage in dangerous alcohol drinking patterns (Curtis). This meansthat more measures to keep young people from drinking should be putin place to ensure that they do not engage in risky alcoholconsumption. Some of these measures include promotion of preventionprograms among students before joining colleges. Research shows thatmany students join colleges with drinking patterns already. As such,communities need to start programs aimed at preventing precollegepeople from drinking dangerously. The parents should also besupportive of these programs to help their children in drinkingresponsible and at the right age. They should advise them on theproblems associated with alcohol drinking and how to overcome such.


Thereshould also be programs targeting local students on the negativitiesof alcohol consumption. They should strive to expel the image ofcollege drinking that is promoted by televisions and movies.Sometimes media can make it look like it is normal to drink incolleges. This may make prompt many students to drink and look thepart. Educating such people on getting rid of that mentality can helpgreatly in preventing irresponsible alcohol drinking.


Itis clear that alcohol consumption among young people is harmful and aserious problem facing the society. However, it seems that increasingthe age of drinking alcohol to 21 does not help in solving theproblem at hand. If anything, the more illegal it is, the more itattracts many youths as it applies to the theory of forbidden fruits.There are so many people under the age of 21 who drink dangerousirrespective of its legal status. The more the youths are forbiddenfrom taking alcohol, the more they are tempted to try and find outwhy it is prohibited. It is not that this argument advocates foryouth drinking, but for responsible drinking. Let the young adultslearn to drink moderately and responsibly. No matter how harsh is thelaw, young adults will always find a way to break it (Wyoming). Thismakes them to engage in dangerous alcohol drinking such as bingedrinking. More educative programs should be put in place to teachyoung people how to drink moderately and responsibly right atadulthood. Therefore, the age for drinking should be lowered, butwith more educative programs and certain restrictions.


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Hanson,Glen, Peter J. Venturelli, and Annette E. Fleckenstein. Drugsand Society.Sudbury, MA: Jones &amp Bartlett Learning, 2012. Print.

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Maisto,Stephen A, Mark Galizio, and Gerard J. Connors. DrugUse and Abuse.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.

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Solohub,Roman T. ClearThinking When Drinking: The Handbook for Responsible AlcoholConsumption.Acworth, Ga: Empennage Press, 2007. Print.

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