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Lowering the minimum drinking age

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There are numerous debates in the United States on whether or not to lower the drinking age to 18. It is a great dilemma that has both opponents and proponents who provide their personal points of view, social positions, assumptions, etc. It is not a secret that young people drink alcohol before they turn 21. However, they do not know their limits and often have the alcohol poisoning in the end. Lowering the drinking age to 18 will give young people an ability to decide on their own when they should start drinking. No restrictions can help prevent individuals from drinking. Therefore, there is a need to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 because young adults should develop their responsibility for everything they do, including drinking.

The overview of the problem

During young adulthood, individuals usually have rich experience in drinking starting from the high school. Watkins assumes that high school students often arrange parties where they drink alcohol and further share photos on different social sites like Facebook or others (14). Many authorities consider that the best solution to this problem is to change restrictions on the drinking age (Watkins 22). Many research findings reveal that in 2008, more than 100 colleges all over the US supported this idea, issuing a petition to the government (Wechsler and Nelson 2). Moreover, many experts believe that young people who serve in the military at the age of 18 have the same right to have a drink as protect their country from enemies. Therefore, individuals who can act rather responsibly in particular situations cannot be prohibited from drinking at the same age.

Those who oppose this decision assume that since 1984, when all 50 states adopted the law that raised the drinking age to 21, there has been less problems connected with young people drinking. As a result, young people obeyed the rules, and restriction on drinking produced positive effects. Many findings suggest that young adults will not overcome underage alcohol consumption once the age is lowered to 18 (Watkins 16). However, the Act of 1984 that raised the drinking age to 21 did not help eliminate drinking among young adults. In fact, this act just prohibited selling alcohol to individuals under the age of 21. However, it did not improve the situation. There is no doubt that alcoholism is a serious problem in the United States, as well as in other countries, but the age restriction will not help solve this problem. The government should find more effective solutions to prevent young people from drinking.

The consequences of drinking prohibition

During the early twentieth century, there was alcohol prohibition in the USA that encouraged young people to drink less. However, when they drank, they tended to drink more, so that experiment was unsuccessful. It is human nature to desire something that has limited access. Therefore, raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 cannot eliminate or reduce alcohol drinking. Wechsler and Nelson believe that when young people are prohibited from drinking legally under the age of 21, they will be pushed to uncontrolled places (4). Admittedly, such places may do more harm to young adults than drinking in their houses because they include drinking games that are accompanied with the great consumption of alcohol that may lead to serious consequences (e.g. alcohol poisoning). Watkins assumes that lowering drinking age is the shifting of fatalities to older age, such as 21, 22, and 23 (24).

Some experts consider that the drinking age should be not lower than 21 because at this age the brain continues to mature, and this process does not finish until 25 (Wechsler and Nelson 4). However, according to this assumption, the military age, and the voting age should be raised too. It is obvious that everything that has been done to prevent early drinking does not work so far. For example, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is practiced in a great number of schools in the USA, but it has poor results because it is a false tactic. Interestingly, this program has no scientific proofs of its productivity. On the contrary, some studies found that students who had taken part in this program had used alcohol more frequently and more heavily (Watkins 6).

Possible solutions

Many opponents of lowering the drinking age to 18 assume that this measure will deteriorate the drinking situation in the country (Wechsler and Nelson 2). However, historically, there were large groups of people (Italian, Greeks, French, Portugal, etc.) the members of which drank alcohol from the young age, and there were no proofs that it harmed them either behaviorally or intellectually. Therefore, a drinking age for young adults should be 18. Moreover, they should receive a permit for drinking alcohol just at the same age as driver’s permits. People should be offered training courses that can educate them how to drink and feel responsibility for their behavior. Such educational courses will prepare young people to be responsible for their drinking consequences if they choose to drink. Thus, the ability to choose whether to drink or not must depend on the individuals’ decisions.

Thirty states have not changed the drinking age in spite of the federal law. In thirty states, parents can allow their children under the age of 21 to drink within their homes. Some other states are very slow to raise the drinking age. Many countries allow young adults to drink in the presence of their parents who may teach them to drink with a sense of responsibility. The officials may offer better opportunities for young adults to learn the culture of drinking. For example, some groups of educators, such as the members of Amethyst Initiative, have advocated the lowering of the drinking age (Wechsler and Nelson 2). Others, however, prove that keeping the drinking age at the point of 21 will prevent the increase in traffic fatalities. Admittedly, the statistics of traffic fatalities is used by both parties to prove their arguments.

Common arguments in support of lowering the minimum drinking age

The most common argument advanced in support of lowering the minimum drinking age to 18 is that young people in the United States become mature at 18. At this age, they serve in the armed forces, marry, vote, and enter into contracts; yet, they are not legally allowed to drink. The researches assert that in those areas where the drinking age was forced on the states is not supported by the local community (Watkins 56). In those states where the drinking age was raised, the number of fatalities was not changed. In fact, only the communities, but not the federal officials should determine the drinking age.

Interestingly, many health professionals believe that the problem of alcoholism does not depend on the age restrictions. What is more, people often become addicted to alcohol because of other reasons, such as frustration, unemployment, low self-esteem, loneliness, etc. The solutions lie in better counseling or stronger bans on underage drinking, and not on the age restrictions. Most bars and music clubs rely on these bans rather than on the drinking age. Moreover, the lowering of the drinking age from 21 to 18 will allow young people to feel their responsibility and free choice. The earlier people consciously understand what is acceptable to them the better.


People all over the United States continue to argue whether or not to lower the age of drinking from 21 to 18. The proponents give numerous arguments in support of their idea to allow young adults to start drinking at the age of 18. They believe that young people should be allowed to start drinking alcohol earlier to know their limits and feel responsible. Moreover, young people themselves should decide when to start drinking. The lowering of the drinking age is nothing but the prohibition of alcohol for the younger age groups. There is a need to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 because young adults should develop their responsibility for everything they do, including drinking.

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