Catching a buzz: Should the drinking age be lowered?

editorial_cartoon drinking age

Staff Editorial

Teens often argue that the drinking age should be lowered to 18, to match the voting age and the age you can join the military. This seems like a preposterous proposal when underage, illegal drinking already accounts for 5,000 deaths and 190,000 serious injuries a year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Teenagers are simply not mature enough to handle or process the effects of drinking. Mixing bad driving, emotionally unstable teenagers with legal alcohol sounds like chaos waiting to happen.

The most apparent risk of lowering the drinking age would be the health risks associated with underage drinking. One effect alcohol has on the brain is the incapacity to form new last ing memories. Since the brain does not mature until your 25th birthday, teens are more suscep tible to the damaging affects of alcohol (teenbrain.drugfree.org.) Our frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls logic and thinking before we act, is not fully developed, meaning that we are not completely capable of making sound judgments and are more likely to act on impulse. Lowering the drinking age would also form bad coping methods if every time we had an emotional meltdown, which, let’s be honest, is every day, we would pick up a bottle and drink our problems away.

Teens already drink illegally, so to make drinking legal to us would mean a whole new range of users and abusers. On top of that, teens that already use alcohol illegally would drink even more because it would be more accessible. This would also cause a ripple effect because younger teens, especially in high school, would have easier access to alcohol. An 18-year-old would be more likely to buy younger classmates alcohol than a 21 year old who is already disconnected from high school students.

Teens already binge drink and drink and drive, so by making the drinking age lower, society is telling teens these actions are okay. According to the Center for Disease Control, teens drink and drive about 2.4 million times a month. Adults were said to drink and drive 112 million times in 2010. If teens already drink and drive illegally, lowering the drinking age would make it seem okay to do, causing the number of teens who drink and drive to go up. It is a given that most teens will at some point try alcohol, but it becomes a lot more serious when they put other people’s lives in danger by drinking and driving.

So while it may sound good to teens to lower the drinking age and “turn up,” it is actually a disaster waiting to happen. We may believe that we are responsible and mature enough to handle drinking, but the truth is we are not. There is already a societal overload of alcohol related problems, why add teenagers into the mix? The drinking age should not be lowered for the good of America.

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