Debate on Lowering the Drinking Age

Should the legal drinking age be lowered to 18 in America? What would be the possible repercussions of doing this? Or is 21 the right age to start drinking legally? The following article answers these relevant questions today...
OpinionFront Staff
The debate on lowering the drinking age to 18 has been going on for quite some time now in the United States. Legally, in America, a person below the age of 21 is not allowed to buy, consume or possess any alcoholic substances. However, as most of us know, either through observation or experience, in reality, this law is only on paper. Drinking during parties or behind closed doors, either in the hostel or at the house, when parents are away, is rampant everywhere amongst the teens. People who want the legal age to be lowered to 18 argue that drinking "secretly" has in fact, increased incidences of alcohol abuse amongst the youngsters. On the other hand, there are those who feel that 21 is the right age for alcohol to be made legally available to people as it keeps incidents such as drunken driving under check.

The Drinking Age Debate

Teenage is a time when a person experiments with various things in life. Almost everyone wants to be a "rebel", who does not "conform" to the laws. Thus, when a teen drinks an alcoholic beverage, when he is still considered underage for it legally, he gets a false sense of achievement. It is due to this very fact that even if the legal age is 21, youngsters who are sixteen, eighteen, or sometimes even below that, often drink at places where they cannot be caught. People for the law to lower the legal age to 18 argue that if it's made legal for teens to drink, their desire to go "against the law" or to try "prohibited" things will not get fulfilled and thus, they may limit its consumption or may not try it altogether.

Another reason given in favor of lowering the legal drinking age to 18 is that if youngsters are allowed to drink in the open, the chances of them drinking in excess and indulging in alcohol abuse will reduce greatly. Teenagers can be actually taught to drink in moderation and supervised when in the open. However, if they drink under wraps, they will most probably abuse it and there won't be any check on how much they consume! Lastly, when a person turns 18, he is given the right to get married, he is considered responsible and mature enough to vote and to sign contracts, then why is it that when it comes to alcohol consumption, it is only when he turns 21 that he is allowed to decide whether he wants to drink, how much he wants to drink, when he wants to drink, etc.

On the other side of this debate are those who say that 21 is the right age to make drinking legal. The main argument they give for this is that in between the ages of 18 and 21, youngsters go through a number of emotional and physical changes. They face peer pressure, their bodies change, they are in the process of deciding which career to follow, they encounter many new situations in life, and if, in the middle of all this turmoil, they are legally given the permission to drink alcohol, they might take to alcohol and drugs in a big way and become dependent on it to ease their tension. This can further give rise to incidents of violence, unplanned sex and teen pregnancies, anxiety and depression, amongst them.

Giving a counter argument that just by allowing youngsters above the age of 18 to drink in the open is no guarantee that they will drink in limit, in fact, if it's legally allowed, 18 to 20 year olds can actually indulge in binge drinking as much as they can possibly do behind closed doors. This can affect their academic performance, increase incidents of drunken driving and create many a social delinquents. Moreover, past researches have shown that people who take to alcohol early in life, have a higher probability of becoming an alcoholic later on. To avoid this, the legal age of drinking should not be lowered in the United States.

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages of lowering the legal drinking age to 18. If you ask my opinion, as this law has not done much in prohibiting the youngsters below 21 to refrain from drinking, so instead of taking steps to ensure that this law is followed and enforced, the government can actually lower the age to 18 and spend its money on educating the youth on drinking in moderation. However, this is just my personal opinion. As far as lowering the age is concerned, the debate still continues...