Lifeand Death While researchingtexts written about alcohol and legal drinking age, I found a few authors whopublished work about the affects alcohol has on an individual. These authorsoften placed the importance of keeping alcohol out of the hands of younginduvial because death numbers will increase. These authors talked about thenumerous reasons as why to keep the legal drinking age at 21 years old to keepthe communities’ safe.
My goal in this paper is to put the importance on safedrinking for anyone over the age of 21 but as well as put all the reasonsbehind keeping that the legal drinking age. Alcohol hasprovided many functions for people throughout history, alcohol has played animportant role in religion and worship. Alcoholic beverages have served as sourcesof needed nutrients, the have been widely known and used for their medicinal,antiseptic, and analgesic properties.
They can also come into play when individuals are trying to enhance theenjoyment of life. Fermenting grain, fruit juice and honey have been around tomake alcohol for thousands of years. FoundationFor A Drug-Free World state, “Inearly Egyptian civilization these fermented beverages were known to exist. Thereis evidence of alcoholic drink in China around 7000 B.C, India between 3000 and2000 B.C, Babylonians in 2700 B.
C. During these periods alcohol was mainly usedfor medicinal purpose” (Foundation for A Drug-Free World). Beginning inthe 18th century, the purpose of alcohol started to change and mostgovernments did not have interest in them. Foundation For A Drug-Free Worldstates, “In 1920 that’swhen it all changed for the United States, by passing a law prohibiting themanufacture, sale, import, and export of intoxicating liquors” (Foundationfor A Drug-Free World). In the United States, that’s when alcoholic beveragesbecame known as “Moonshine” for the production of this alcohol was made in thenight under moonlight in order to see so they were not caught by law. As wellas the transportation of the Moonshine was done during the night for the samereason. Alcohol comes in aliquid form and can be bought legally by an adult that is 21 years of age orolder in the United States.
Alcohol can have immediate effects on the body aftereven a small dose. According to health line, “while a small amount of alcohol can escape the body viaurine and breathing, most of the alcohol a person consumes is absorbed intotheir bloodstream” (American Addiction Center). In other words, healthline is informing the public that the full effect is not going to hit you rightaway because it will take time to fully enter your bloodstream. Even with thesmall amount leaving your body through breathing and going to the restroom itis not enough to counter the amount in the bloodstream. With the more alcoholthat is consumed the greater of effect it has on an individual’s system. Manypeople do not understand what constitutes of a standard drink.
According to theNational Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “one 12-ounce beer with about 5 percent alcohol content isa good example of a standard drink. Five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of80-proof (40 percent alcohol) distilled spirits or liquor are also examples ofstandard drinks” (American Addiction Center).NIAAA’s point is that majority of people do not understand how toconsume a standard amount of alcohol putting others at risk. People aredrinking more than one should in order to still safely operate a vehicle. Young adults arein a developmental stage in which they mature physically, mentally, andbehaviorally. They are acquiring the skills that allow them to live independentlygrowing into self-dependent adults.
During this period is marked frequently bysocial interactions with peers, exploration of behavior, with an increase ofrisk taking actions. Often involves the self-confidence acquired from the useof alcohol. The brain undergoes enormous structural and functional changes duringthe time period of their new life experiences. Based on the group of neuronsthat are regularly stimulated also known as plasticity can affects the nervecells connected to the brain. “This process eliminates the unnecessary and unused cells resulting inonly the neurons that are meaningful to the body” (NIAAA).
In other words,NIAAA believes that if you add alcohol to the equation while the body is developingthe brain might eliminate cells that are necessary for the future. Adolescence being such an important time ofbrain development that the use of alcohol on the brain can have a negativelyimpact during that period. Adolescence in humans is defined as the seconddecade of life. NIAAA states, “One brain region where particularly extensiveremodeling occurs is the frontal region of the outer layer of the brain—theprefrontal cortex—which is thought to be involved in working memory, voluntarymotor behavior, impulse control, rule learning, spatial learning, planning, anddecisionmaking” (NIAAA).
NIAAA’s point isthat adolescent time period is the most important time of a humans’ lifebecause it’s when an individual’s gains and develops all the necessary skillsto be a successful adult. So, alcohol should be left out of the picture sinceit can hinder the full development of those skills.Majorityof privileges and responsibilities are granted to individuals at the age of 18years of age into adulthood. From legally being able to vote, enlist in themilitary, move out on your own if you no longer want to live with your parentsbut is that the final point of maturity in humans? No matter how smart a teenmay act their brain has not fully develop.
The part of the brain that allowsthem to make rational decisions isn’t “fully developed until the age of 25” (TheUniversity of Rochester). The University of Rochester’s point is that youngadults don’t fully mature until 25 so by keeping the drinking age at 21 their decision-makingskills are close to fully development taking away that many more opportunitiesof making bad decisions. Recent studydone by University of Rochester found “that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults thinkwith the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part.
This is the part if thebrain that responds to situations with good judgement and an awareness oflong-term consequences. Teen process information with the amygdala. This is theemotional part” (The University of Rochester). The university’s point isthat adults will take the time to figure out all the outcomes that couldpossibly affect their life forever. While teens do not necessarily care orconsider the outcomes that come in the future because they have temporaryhappiness. Putting teens into a greater risk of peer pressure meaning that ifan individual is around partners or friends they are 50 percent likely to be arisk taker around them.
With keeping the drinking age at 21 it givesindividuals a couple more years to get past the period where they are thinkingwith emotions rather than with logic. Even though some young adults are morecapable of handling things by themselves and other aren’t necessarily ready forfull responsibility. This will keep the number of death tolls down fromdrinking and driving within the young adults. TheCool Spot states, “Thedeath toll caused by alcohol consumed by minors for each year is estimated tobe 5,000 deaths” (The Cool Spot). The Cool Spot’s point is that thereare too many accidents among minors that could be prevented from eliminatingalcohol. Cool Spot also states, “In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading most cause of death inpeople aged 15 to 20” (The Cool Spot). Cool spot’s point is that evenwithout alcohol, motor vehicles are very dangerous and always need to behandled with care since they are the leading cause of deaths.
When alcohol isput into the equation, the chances of alcohol related crashes are doubled inteens compared to individuals that are of legal drinking age. According toEdgar Snyder & Associates, ” if a person under 21 years of age is found guilty of an alcoholviolation,…shall be fined. In addition,…may be assigned 8-12 hours of communityservice……suspended license or permit for 30 days for first offense… 60 forsecond offense, and 180 days for each subsequent offense” (Edgar Snyder& Associates). Snyder’s point is that in the state of Texas violations aretaken seriously in order to keep the state safe and disciplined.
Texasalcoholic beverage commission states, if a minor is caught driving under theinfluence an “Alcoholawareness class” might be required along with the suspension of licenseof permit (Edgar Snyder & Associates). TABS point is that there are seriousoutcomes that can come from driving under the influence one possibility beingkilling another individual while trying to make it home. So, the awarenessclass informs them how much danger they are putting themselves and others in froma bad decision. A major responsibility in consuming alcohol is to notover drink which could result in alcohol poisoning. Mayo Clinic states, alcoholpoisoning symptoms consist of ” Confusion, Vomiting, Seizures, Slow breathing, Blue-tinged skin orpale skin, low body temperature, passing out” (Mayo Clinic). Mayo’spoint is some of the symptoms can claim an individual’s life if not recognizedin time to be treated by a bystander or be taken to the hospital. If someone issuspected to have alcohol poisoning it is suggested a by stander should followthese steps; first call 911 to have professional assistants on the way, beprepared to provide important information such as location of the event andindividuals name if known, never leave the person alone if unconscious waituntil 911 has arrived, and help a person who is vomiting so they do not chokeon their own vomit if laying causing death. Alcohol poisoning can be caused bywhat is known as “binge drinking”.
Binge drinking is defined by Mayo Clinic as”a pattern of heavydrinking when a male rapidly consumes five or more alcoholic drinks within twohours, or a female down at least four drinks within two hours”(Mayo Clinic). Mayo’s point is that binge drinking is very unhealthy for anindividual of any age especially under the age of 21 because there is too muchalcohol running through the bloodstream. All the alcohol that is entered into an individual’sbloodstream while the consumption is metabolized in the liver.
According to theUniversity of New York, “theliver metabolizes alcohol at the same rate for everyone, regardless of weight,sex or race” (The University of New York). The University of New York’spoint is that weight or sex does not help an induvial to sober up faster to beof the legal drinking limit in their state. The University of New York alsostates, “Onaverage, the liver takes one hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol. For mostpeople, one ounce of alcohol will produce a .015 blood-alcohol concentration” (TheUniversity of New York).
The University’s point is to inform readers of thedamage alcohol can have on the liver from the concentration in the bloodstream. The law for the legal drinking limit will vary from stateto state. According to the state of Texas, “driving while intoxicated (DWI) means drunk driving, and thestate uses your bloodalcohol concentration (BAC) todetermine whether you’re too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle(DMV.org). In other words, Texas DMV believe that the roads should stay safefor everyone on them to get home safe to their families. Texas DMV laws state, blood alcohol content “cannot exceed .
08%” (DMV.org).Texas’ point is that if you are driving under the influence any induvial willbe arrested and taken to jail, in order to keep the roads safe for law abidingcitizens. Just because underage drinking hasbecome a major problem throughout the United States doesn’t mean the legaldrinking age should be changed to 18 years of age.
Teens that can’t controltheir abuse problem will need assistants from parents to put an end to it.WebMD state if parents, “feel uncomfortable, ask for help from a pediatrician, psychologist, or psychiatrist.” (WebMd). WebMD’s point is that as a parentthe subject cannot go undiscussed even if its uncomfortable because negativelife changing event can happen.
By doing this it is hurtingnot only the United States from greater death tolls but the individual doingthe drinking. It might not be visible to the naked eye but it starts byhindering their development of the brain that allows them to make rationaldecisions. Leading to un-rational decisions that could change or completely endtheir life forever. WebMD state, “Alcohol…abuseis a leading cause of teen death or injury related to car crashes, suicides,violence, and drowning” (WebMD). WebMD’s pointis that teens will abuse the ability to buy alcohol at the age of 18 and the purchaseis a receipt for death.
For the benefit of everyone, the governmentneeds to keep the legal drinking age the same.