In 1984, the United States passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required the entire country to raise the age of purchasing as well as consuming alcohol to 21 years old. Ever since this law was passed, the underage drinking rate skyrocketed. More and more adolescents are becoming part of the underage drinking demographic. Approximately 33% of high school students, which are between the ages of 14-18, drink on a weekly basis. Along with that, 80% of college students between the ages of 18-20 drink more than once a week. With these kind of statistics, shouldn’t the government just accommodate for the fact underage drinking cannot be stopped, and lower the legal drinking age to something more bearable than 21?
According to several high school and college students when they are asked why they drink, they all tend to have the same answer; “It’s a social norm,” or “I drink because there’s something about not legally being allowed to drink that makes it more fun to drink.” Mainly across college campuses, it is virtually impossible to be in a social setting without there being alcohol involved. It has become a way of life for several people, even if it’s just sipping on a few drinks, or if it’s at a party where you try to have as many drinks as you possibly can. Regardless of where you are, it’s almost impossible to escape the idea of alcohol. College police officers don’t even try to stop underage drinking because they know it is inevitable. The only time they intervene is if there is a serious problem, but for the most part if you can control yourself they won’t have a problem.
The United States is one of the very few countries that have such a high drinking age. About 61% of countries have a drinking age of 18, and 25% of countries have a drinking age ranging from 13-17 years old. When you look at countries in Europe, it is a social norm for young adults to enjoy a glass of wine with their family at social gatherings. Their families have taught them how to properly drink alcohol, instead of binge drinking, like most young adults do in the United States. If our country had the same system in place, there wouldn’t be such a desire to binge drink. Binge drinking usually occurs in settings where there is an over-abundance of alcohol, on college campuses this usually occurs at fraternity parties. There is always an abundance because the members know that this is really the only place where many students can drink, so when they attend these parties they abuse the power of drinking because they don’t know when the next time they will be allowed to drink out in public is. The binge drinking rate in countries with lower drinking ages is drastically lower than the rate in the US for that exact reason. If we were taught how to properly drink by our families, by being able to drink in public settings with them, we could completely avoid the real problem, which is binge drinking.
Young adults are only taught that there will be consequences if we drink underage. The school system should focus more on informing us how to properly drink, such as teaching us when to know our limit and the correct amounts to drink, rather than only teaching us that if we drink we will ruin our health and could end up in trouble with the law.
I personally think that if 18 year olds are allowed to vote and risk their lives fighting for our country we should be allowed to drink out in public without getting charged with a Minor in Possession. There is virtually no way to stop underage drinking, it will always happen. The only way to help young adults learn the risks is to inform them rather than scare them. Lowering the legal drinking age is realistically the only way to stop adolescents from abusing how much alcohol they consume.