Alcohol: Should the US Lower the Drinking Age to 18?

The introduction: some basic points of alcohol problem

While analyzing the drinking age, I would like to point out some fundamentals of the so-called alcohol problem. First of all, there is a need to admit that genetic factors in alcoholism, as well as personality traits and social aspects are considered to be the key points of underage drinking.

So, special investigations have shown that there is a strong interdependence between hereditary and alcohol use. Thus, Leigh Sexton (2011) is of the opinion that “Where children whose biological parents were alcoholics were adopted at birth into non-alcoholic families they still had higher levels of alcohol addiction than adopted children with no alcoholic parent” (para. 2).

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Personality traits are also to be analyzed, as there is an opinion that anti-social traits, lack of self-confidence are recognized to be the causes, which lead to alcohol addiction.

In other words, various personality abnormalities or disorders are considered to be the primary reasons of alcohol abuse. Another important point I would like to highlight is that those parents who bring up their kids in an alcoholic home increase the risk of alcohol use by their children.

The most interesting fact, however, is that alcohol abuse can be omitted. There can be no alcohol abuse, but the chances that children start drinking at 15 or 16 are still high. “Drinking in the teens nearly doubles the risk of alcohol abuse compared with those who start drinking after they enter their twenties” (Sexton, 2011, para. 5).

Social drinking is one of the most complicated cases of alcohol abuse. Thus, among young gatherings drinking is considered to be desirable and even standard process. In most cases, there are friends who encourage the person to drink. On the other hand, it is also rather important to pay attention to familial behaviors. Sometimes, the parents mention that the idea to drink a cold beer seems to be quite attractive. In their turn, children comprehend such messages as normal desire to slake one’s thirst.

The thesis statement

Alcohol addiction of adolescents is mostly related to lack of personality development, lack of self-confidence, age-related issues, and unstable family role. Thus, the idea to lower the drinking age to 18 seems to be totally absurd. The analysis of some investigations can help to resolve the issue and take right decision.

The body: alcohol, parenting and psychological disorders

Generally, alcohol abuse among youths is recognized to be the most serious problem, which is to be resolved. Prof. David J. Hanson (2011) says that “On national television programs, Califano reported horror stories of alcohol abuse among college students, associating it with assault, rape, and even murder” (para. 2).

Some important data shows that 60% of STD are acquired at the state of alcoholic inebriation. 90% rapes take place when the victim is drunk. 95% of illegal actions are alcohol-related.

Prof. David J. Hanson (2011) states that “the average young person will have seen 100,000 beer commercials between the age of two and eighteen But just think – sixteen years or about 5,844 days occur between a person’s second and eighteenth birthday” (para. 5).

In the late eighties, all fifty states of the USA prohibited alcohol drinking for those who are less than 21. The law was adopted when higher traffic fatalities were associated with alcohol-abusing persons under the age of 21. However, “many underage youth continue to consume alcohol and to experience alcohol related problems” (Hingson & Kenkel, n.d., para. 1). Thus, underage drinking is one of the key problems American society is to think about.

The most interesting facts, however, seem to be rather ambiguous. For instance, drinking problems are low “when children are served alcohol by their parents” (Hanson, 2011, para. 6). On the other hand, when youths are prevented from alcohol, some bigger problems appear. In other words, such prevention causes the opposite effect. However, I suppose it depends upon the principles of upbringing whether a child relies on his or her parents’ behavior and role models or no.

For this reason, I would like to point out three basic principles of parenting. So, first of all, it is necessary to demonstrate good drinking behavior; the parents should expect that children will copy their mode of life. Thus, the parents are to think about their own actions. Finally, various mass media means can be used to demonstrate the positive and negative consequences of drinking. Of course, the parents should use appropriate mass media programs.

Taking into account the investigation made by Patrick M. O’Malley, Ph. D., Lloyd D. Johnston, Ph. D., and Jerald G. Bachman, Ph. D. one can state that alcohol use among adolescents is a real problem. Thus, the 1997 the Monitoring the Future Study “found that 54 percent of 8th graders (almost all of whom are ages 13 to 14)

reported having consumed alcohol (i.e., more than just a few sips) in their lifetime” (O’Malley, Johnston & Bachman, 1998, p. 86). The most widespread alcohol problems adolescents experience are considered to be difficulties in communication, i.e. interpersonal problems, health problems, medical problems. Moreover, numerous psychological disorders appear.

For instance, one is to keep in mind that there is certain interdependence between a person’s mental state and alcohol addiction or use. ”One US study found that 19.9% of the general population had one or more psychiatric disorders, but in those with alcohol abuse or dependence the figure rose to 36.6%” (Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2007, p. 3).

Another important point I would like to highlight is the disorders which cause alcohol addiction. So, the most common are depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, manic-depressive illness, and schizophrenia. Young people mostly suffer from the first three disorders.

I’ve pointed out that there are psychological diseases, which cause alcohol addiction; however, on the other hand, I have to notice that the opposite effect is also possible. Thus, there are many cases, when young people start to experience the above-mentioned disorders because of alcohol use. Anti-social personality disorder is also one of the most widespread consequences of alcohol dependence.

The conclusion: no permission to lower the drinking age

It is not a secret that alcohol is recognized to be popular psychoactive drug. In most cases, adolescents use alcohol to relax. Other popular variants are to be happy, to feel less anxious, (less inhibited, less depressed), to fit in, to celebrate, to make friends, to become confident, and to forget problems. When analyzing the reasons, one can understand what psychological problems may occur.

Finally, when analyzing alcohol addiction and abuse, one is to keep in mind the fundamentals of parenting, as well as the consequences of social, health, and economic aspects of underage drinking.

References

Hanson, D. (2011). Alcohol. Problems and Solutions. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/UnderageDrinking.html

Hanson, D. (2011). Children, Alcohol and Parenting. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/ChildrenAndParenting.html

Hingson, R., & Kenkel, D. (n.d). Social, Health and Economic Consequences of Underage Drinking. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10729&page=351

Institute of Alcohol Studies. (2007). Alcohol and Mental Health. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/mentalhealth.pdf

O’Malley, P., Johnston, L., & Bachman, J. (1998). Alcohol Use Among Adolescents. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Alcohol%20Use%20Among%20Adolescents.pdf

Sexton, L. (2011). Genetics Versus Upbringing in Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from
http://www.alcoholissues.co.uk/genetics-versus-upbringing-alcohol-abuse.html