Why lowering the drinking age won’t fix anything.

Once again, a response to something I heard in my ENG101 class.

College Presidents re asking for the drinking age to be lowered in order to fix the binge drinking, underage drinking I general I suppose, and help with the high rate of, well, drinking. Many people like the idea, especially many teenagers (go figure) arguments usually go something like this:

I am old enough to be shipped of to war (in case of a draft, which realistically, in our day and age, won’t happen)

I am old enough to join the army and potentially die for my country but can’t legally buy alcohol. (Also note that the majority of the people using this argument are not in the armed forces (some are, but not many) one person also noted that in the state of Arizona, someone under 21 cannot legally gamble.

These arguments along with the popular, “its fun to break the rules, if the rule isn’t there drinking will be fixed” are, in my opinion, completely and utterly wrong. These explanations are weak, and the latter is based on psychology, (I have no respect for psychology, except of course for Evolutionary Psychology and Social Psychology)

The problem is not a love of breaking rules, and it is not because of the suicidal tendencies of self-destructive behavior. The problem has a cultural and social cause, and therefore a socio-cultural solution.

When in a society, any society, restricts potentially destructive and dangerous behavior, it also increases its dangers. Take for instance two examples: drinking (as it is the focus of the rant) and drug use (which I will address on another post.


Drinking is a part of the activities performed by Americans, who drink me celebration, in company, for entertainment, and in sorrow. Drinking alcohol is a central and key aspect of American society, and can be observed in the media and at home, but for the young people of the country it is off limits. Drinking is a mark of maturity and adulthood, a rite of passage so to speak. This makes a person’s twenty-first birthday a day of celebration, the last restriction before adulthood. Although this may seem like a good concept, it comes at a price. These new adults have no concept of restriction when it comes to alcohol use, they continue drinking until they can do so no longer, alcohol, a boon of society and a mark of social maturity, then becomes a sign of the immaturity and lack of respectability and judgment in that young person. In essence, it defeats the purpose of waiting.

In a possible solution, one that has been observed and tried as true in other countries, the teenager is introduced to drinking at home, with his family, and learns the dangers of excess under a watchful hand (the parents, elders) and then participates in the celebration with the adults. Later when the now adult member of the family moves on, he already has a sense of limitations and can join in this kind of celebration and in the social aspect of such without danger of ignorance or the feeling of rebellion, which often leads to death or seriously injury, whether it be physical or mental, or in the form of loosing face in society.

This solution has, obviously, two flaws:

First, it will never work in America. The American public has but one sentiment: Elimination and Prohibition, despite the evidence against it, the consensus is that the only way to fix a problem is to restrict, ignore, and punish.

Second, it will not entirely prevent death by alcohol poisoning or accidents caused by alcohol consumption (in this case, restriction of driving while under the influence is the only solution)


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by ZookiePlyr on September 2, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    So, my first reaction to this, the thought of lowering the drinking age, was that colleges would fix their problem of underage drinking and the negative impact of students for the first time being able to freely drink and ruin the start of their college careers. Tadah! Now that problem is being foisted upon high schools! So… seniors are going to have a blast and ruin their senior year and grades finally being able to freely drink. People are going to enter college dumber than before, with worse grades, and little inclination to fix them since they can just dirnk them away under the liberation of being able to drink for 3 more years before the old legal age. I can see how sending the problem down is going to make things easier for universities. It’s not as if the high schools don’t have enough problems as is.


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