Underage Drinking

There are many consequences that come with underage drinking, and in order to prevent more fatalities, the drinking age should remain 21.

Underage Drinking: Is It Worth It?

Arguments on why it should be lowered to 18.

Many times you will find the people who want to argue on why the drinking age should be 18 instead of 21. They say if you are old enough to buy cigarettes, vote, or die for your country then why aren't 18 year olds allowed to drink? In 2008 a college President founded a non-profit organization called Choose Responsibility. It argues that 21 isn't working, and encourages states to reconsider the laws of the MLDA being 21. It wants states to change the MLDA to 18, but with changing it to 18 you are still adopting the exceptions of the "21 laws."

Why it shouldn't.

“When the MLDA is eighteen, law enforcement monitors the drinking behavior of individuals aged seventeen and younger. When the MLDA is twenty-one , this monitoring is spread more thinly, resulting in more drinking among seventeen year olds. (Miron).”

On college campuses, kids tend to be heavy drinkers, because once they can get their hands on alcohol, they are going to drink and drink and drink until the point of passing out or puking. Heavy drinking is more prominent in young adulthood, which would be the ages between 18 and 24.

Are kids more likely to drink if their parent's are drinking around them?

The answer is yes. "In communities where the rate of alcohol abuse is high among adults, rates of underage drinking are also high (Green)." Nearly 50% of adolescents report of having had at least one drink by the time they reach 8th grade, and approximately 20% of 8th graders had consumed alcohol in the past couple of days. According to the NIAAA, 80% of youth have initiated alcohol by the end of high school.

Consequences of alcohol and Underage Drinking.

Alcohol has serious side affects, no matter the age of the consumer. But when consuming alcohol at a younger age can lead to serious problems later in life. "Early initiation to drinking is associated with many adverse long-term outcomes, including increased risks of developing alcohol abuse problems and alcohol dependence in late adulthood (Green)."

Alcohol dependence can be a serious issue, alcohol dependence is an inability to control drinking due to emotional and physical dependence on alcohol. Between the ages of 11 to 33, onset alcohol use before the age of 11 compared to older adolescents, can be related to increased dependence on alcohol in adulthood.

Alcohol consumption at a young age has server biological consequences and increases the risks of alcohol dependence. People that wait until they are 21 are four times less likely to develop alcoholism compared to those who start drinking at the age of 15.

Kids are starting to drink at younger and younger ages, "and are consuming more alcohol than adults, at an average of five drinks (Green)."

Short term effects.

"Underage drinking is a leading cause of death for those under the age of 21. Approximately 5000 youths under the age of 21 die each year from cause related to drinking. This includes 1500 homicides and 300 suicides attributed to alcohol use annually (Green)."

Alcohol affects mental health, increasing feelings of depression, stress/anxiety. Most problems with underage drinking is the fatal accidents that happen. Half of the fatal traffic accidents involve drunk drivers under the age of 21. These traffic accidents are more prone with drivers between the ages of 16 and 20. Besides driving incidents and deaths, alcohol is responsible for deficits in kids' academic and occupational abilities.

A study on short term memory skills in 15 and 16 year olds, by comparing adolescents with no alcohol problems to adolescents with alcohol-dependence on verbal and nonverbal retention of intact learning and recognition discriminability. Results demonstrated that the alcohol-dependent youth had a harder time remembering words and geometric designs after 10 minutes.

How easy is it for kids under the age of 21 to get alcohol?

Very easy. "Despite the MLDA, between 30 and 70% of alcohol outlets sell alcohol to underage customers. Young people also secure alcohol from social sources, including peers, family members, and overage friends. Most common social sources are parties, friends, and adult purchasers (Green)."

There was a survey to over 3000 11th graders in Oregon, it found that more than half perceived that alcohol would be very easy to obtain. Results demonstrated that alcohol is often obtained from certain from certain commercial alcohol sources, including grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores.

It has been argued that with the MLDA being 21 hasn't saved lives.

Economic Ramifications

Underage drinking not only has medical and psychosocial consequences is has economic ramifications as well. Underage drinking costs the United States is estimated at about 53 billion USD annually. Most of these costs are due to premature deaths, incarceration, crime careers and victims of alcohol-related crime. Additional costs in society includes motor vehicle crashes, and fire destruction. The government, along with private insurance companies bear most of the economic burden of alcohol problems.

In conclusion,

I feel that there isn't ever going to be a way to end underage drinking completely. No matter the age of the legal drinking age you are going to have kids binge drinking. It doesn't matter how hard you try to stop it, it is going to continue to happen, and its going to continue to be a major issue.