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Lowering Or Raising the Drinking Age

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How would you feel if someone else’s stupidity hurt you or someone you love? When someone drinks they are not only putting themselves in danger but the people around them as well. For years the states argued on what the legal age for drinking should be, so eventually, there was a different age in many different states. According to the article “Minimum Legal Drinking Age,” before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, the drunk driving arrest increased 223 percent and the number of licensed drivers increased only 42 percent. The minimum drinking age should not be lowered to 18 because the current age limit has saved lives, the brain does not fully develop until a person’s early 20s, and the older someone begins drinking the less likely they are to get addicted.

After constant fighting back and forth between states, president Ronald Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984 to make all states legal drinking age 21. Every life matters, if this law is saving only one life per year it is worth it. According to Karen Arnold-Burger, writer, her article “ Maintaining the Legal Drinking Age of 21 Curbs Underage Alcohol Abuse,” argues that since 1984 alcohol-related accidents involving young people have decreased 19% and saving about 1,000 lives per year. 19% is about one in every five people, most families have at least five people, think that one person in every family has been saved by this act. Even though this law is saving lives people still argue that the age should be lowered to 18. Writer William Dejong of the article “ Setting the Legal Drinking Age at 21 has Saved Lives,” reveals that people believe that it is unfair to 18-year-olds because they are adults and should be able to make their own decisions. The law was made to protect everyone, it has been scientifically proven that the younger they are the more likely they are to having an accident. When someone gets drunk and gets behind the wheel of a car they are not only putting themselves in danger but also the people around them, other people’s lives are more important than one’s desires. Also, the article “Minimum Legal Drinking Age,” shows that after the tragedy in 1980 of Candace Lighteners 13-year-old daughter killed by a drunk driver, Lightner started the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to fight for stronger laws against drunk driving. The MADD focused on the states that set their drinking age to 18 or the states that bordered them. It revealed the drunk driving accidents of young people and got 16 states to change the age to 21. Sadly, a tragedy had to brighten people’s eyes, Lightner did the right thing bringing this to attention because thousands of lives have been saved.

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Why would someone want to damage something that is already underdeveloped? Over the years more and more research has proven that the average brain does not fully develop until a person’s early twenties. Before the brain fully develops it is weak in judgment and is more likely to “endure” risky behavior (Burger). While taking in alcohol, impairs your judgment, risky behavior, and slows down the perceptual and motor skills. If they lower the age to 18 it will weaken the part of the brain that is already weak and will increase the chance of accidents and decisions made that people would not make if they were sober. Why would someone want to hurt their memory, learning, and everyday life for just a couple of drinks a week? Kathleen Facklemann, writer of the article “ Teen Alcohol Abuse May Cause Brain Damage,” influences that recent studies have shown that drinking at a young age can damage the hippocampus region of your brain, the region of memory and learning. Scientists De Bellis did a study comparing 24 kids who have a serious drinking habit and 24 kids who have never drunk. The drinkers had a 10% smaller hippocampus than the others; the longer they have been drinking the smaller the region became. 10% is a whole lot for one part of someone’s brain. If that’s not enough proof, researchers did another MRI test, they took 10 young women who drank in their high school days but have already stopped, and compared them to 10 women who have never drunk. They had to remember the location of objects on a computer screen and an MRI snapped a picture of their brain activity during the test. Even though the women had stopped drinking their brains showed slowness and they had trouble remembering (Fackelmann). The worry here is if alcohol damages the spatial memory and if so is it long-lasting. It is hard for someone to succeed in life if they are always having problems remembering little important details and if a job sees underage drinking charges in someone’s past they are less likely to choose that person for the job.

Most people say that they can handle alcohol and not get addicted, but what makes them so different from millions of other people in this world. Stephen P. Thompson’s article “ Teen Substance Use Often Leads to Addiction,” explains that young people have a higher risk of getting addicted and the younger they start the more likely they are to “entering addiction.” 90% of people who end up addicted began drinking, smoking, and other use of drugs before they turn 18. People who use drugs and alcohol before 18 are six times more likely to get addicted compared to those who wait until the proper age. Addiction leads to health problems and death, so if the age is lowered then we are giving young people a gateway to addiction. Drinking at a young age has some serious consequences; almost all high school students have either drank or known someone who has. Also, most high school students have known someone who has been caught drinking, gotten in an accident, and who has been physically abused or sexually assaulted by someone under the influence of alcohol (Thompson). A person is doing more than just hurting themselves when they drink they are also putting the people they love and the people around them in danger, which is unfair to them. The later in life a person drinks the less likely they are to getting addicted which means the less likely they are to getting hurt or someone else hurt or even killed. Most parents of teenagers don’t know that their child/children drink, which leads to teens hiding, drinking less, and getting a designated driver so they don’t get in trouble by parents and authorities. Since they have raised the legal drinking age to 21 it has discouraged young people to drink until they are 21 so they don’t get in trouble with authorities (Dejong).

Yes, when a person turns 18 they can vote, join the military, and even get married without their parents’ consent, but not one of those actions affects the welfare and safety of the people around them. Getting drunk could harm not only themselves but an innocent human that has made the right decision to obey the law, but because someone made a selfish mistake they put so many other people at risk. The law protects everyone it is not here to please someone’s wants. Between saving lives and discouraging teens to drink, this goes to show that 21 is the right age for legal drinking, not to mention having a complete, working brain helps in everyday life as well. If they lower the age to 18 because of unfairness, teens will just start drinking at a younger age which means more addicts, more accidents, and more brain damage.  


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