Raise It To 25According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, people who drink between the ages of 12 to 24 are fourteen percent more likely to develop an alcohol dependence than people 25 or older. Why is this? Because the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25.
So, if the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, why can we drink something that damages our neurons and brains at the age of 21? I believe the consumption age of alcohol should be raised to 25 years of age for these three reasons: The brain is not fully developed until the age of 25; alcohol is equivalent to drugs and can lead to addiction; and alcoholism can lead to multiple health problems. Those are the reasons why society should raise the drinking age.The first and main reason we should raise the drinking age is drinking alcohol at any age can cause multiple problems, but drinking alcohol before the age of 25 can amplify these problems and may even create new ones, especially in the brain. “Two parts of the brain are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol before the age of 25: the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. In these two particular areas of the brain, development is still taking place and this development has three stages: proliferation of pathways often referred to as the growth spurts stage (creating neurons and pathways); pruning the pathway; and accumulation of myeltirationcmely around neurons, which enables them.
” (Thompson, 7). What Thompson is saying is that the two parts of the brain that are susceptible to alcohol before the age of 25 are the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. The reason for this is because these parts of our brain are yet to be developed.
This is the most crucial reason on why we need to raise the drinking age to 25. When we drink before those parts of the brain are developed, the brain begins to deform; and the neurons and their pathways will slowly be destroyed, thus rendering those neurons and pathways of the brain useless. In addition to creating a dysfunction of the brain by drinking before the age of 25, we are mentally not stable to drink because we cannot make rational decisions.
“The normal mid-20’s adult thinks with his prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgement and an awareness of long term consequences. Adolescents process things with the emotional part of their brain called the amygdala.
This is the emotional part of the brain. In adolescents the emotional part of the brain and the decision making center are still developing and will be until the age of 25.” (Sather and Sholat, 7). Sather and Sholat are saying that adults at the age of 25 and above think with their prefrontal cortex while people 25 and younger think with their amygdala. These two parts are completely different– the prefrontal cortex allows you make rational decisions, while the amygdala allows you to make decisions based on emotions. So, if we can not make decent rational decisions, then why should people be allowed to drink before the age of 25? When people think with their amygdala they are more likely to give into peer pressure, thus causing mistakes such as drinking and driving. If we wait until we are capable of thinking with the prefrontal cortex, these mistakes are less likely to be made.
Secondly, because people under the age of 25 can’t make rational decisions, they often do not think about their health. There are multiple health problems that can arise while drinking alcohol. These health problems include seven different types of cancer, weakening of the immune system, liver inflammation, lung infections, chronic heart problems, and inflammation and swelling in the pancreas.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , “Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast. In the human body the ethanol from alcohol is reformed to acetaldehyde. This chemical causes cancer by damaging strands of DNA and making them unrepairable.” What the institute is trying to say is the reformed alcohol is turned into a chemical that damages our DNA strands. These damaged DNA strands are what cause cancer.Now while the damaging of DNA is one of the worst things that can happen, the multiple other organs can end in the same or more traumatic ordeal, death.
According to the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Drinking can weaken your immune system making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substance that can lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion. Drinking over a long time can damage the heart causing problems including cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressureIn the lungs there are many things that can and will go wrong. After chronic drinking the lungs will become weaker and will be susceptible to infections, and eventually if enough infections occur the lungs will collapse. Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammation including steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.” The institute is saying that alcohol affects every aspect of our body, including the internal organs. These organs will be destroyed or altered due to alcohol.
In addition to all of these health risks, why should we give people who can not make rational decisions the ability to destroy their bodies? Along with those major internal health risks when we drink before the age of 25, we also increase the risk for addiction because alcohol is an a drug. This toxic drug has mind altering effects according to Thompson. “Studies now suggest that drinking alcohol during adolescence produce permanent brain changes. During peeks of plascity the brain rewires itself to rely and depend on alcohol. This is the beginning process of addiction” (Thompson, 8).
Thompson is saying that drinking alcohol at a young age causes permanent damage to the brain. This occurs when the brain is going through periods of change; the brain rewires itself to work properly with alcohol.Besides the fact that alcohol changes the brain causing it to become dependent on it, alcohol is also classified as a drug. “Alcohol is a depressant drug.
This means that alcohol slows the function of the control nervous system when it enters the body. That’s why the person’s perception, emotions, and vision can be altered when they drink. Alcohol is often referred to as the most dangerous drug because it’s so commonly abused and its dangers are often overlooked” ( The Recovery Village).
The Recovery Village is saying that alcohol is drug that manipulates and stimulates our nervous system. This type of drug is most commonly abused because of how easy it is to get a hold of. The nervous system and the brain are where addiction occurs. Furthermore the manifestation of addiction most commonly appears in the neurotransmitters. “Alcohol can act as a depressant by increasing the inhibitory neurotransmitters, or by decreasing exciter neurotransmissions. Alcohol’s depressants effect on the neurons is associated with some of the behavioral manisfactions of addiction”( Valernzuck, 145).
What Valernzuck is saying is that alcohol is increasing the inhibitory neurotransmitters or decreasing exciter neurotransmissions and theses effects are the beginnings of addiction. This states that alcohol triggers the neurotransmitters and neurotransmission to need alcohol. This need for alcohol is addiction. However, many people believe that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. One of these many is Professor Camille Paglia. She believes that it’s illogical that we can cannot drink until the age of 21.
“She states, “It is absurd and unjust that young Americans can vote, marry, enter contracts and serve in the military at 18 but cannot buy an alcoholic drink in a bar or restaurant. The age-21 rule sets the U.S. apart from all advanced Western nations and lumps it with small or repressive countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
“(Pagila). What Pagila is trying to say is that it is unreasonable that we can make important life decisions before we can drink. While many people may agree with this, it is irrelevant. When drinking alcohol before the mind is ready not only puts the drinker’s life in danger but also the people’s lives around them.
The only thing from the list above that could possibly endanger oneself is enlisting in the military, but we go through special and intense training to understand the dangers.The next thing that is also argued is that having the drinking age set so high gives young people a less safe way to drink, because no matter what the law says they are still going to drink. According to Professor Abilage R.
Hall-Blanco, “Prohibiting young people from consuming alcohol doesn’t stop them from drinking. But it does make drinking much less safe. Instead of drinking at a bar, for example, students drink secretly in dorm rooms or at clandestine parties, where they are much less likely to be supervised and where drinks spiked with drugs are much more likely. If someone overindulges or becomes ill, their friends are less likely to seek medical and other assistance. Why? Because underage drinking is illegal, and calls for help risk self-incrimination.”(Hall-Blanco). What Professor Hall-Blanco is saying that students are going to drink and prohibiting them from drinking is creating an unsafe environment for them.
This furthers my point that our brains are not mentally ready. If we can not rationally think and believe that we can drink as long as we do not get caught, how can society trust people who can legally drink without being mentally ready to not do destructive things to themselves or others like drinking and driving or binge drinking which will kill their organs? Lastly, people argue that we are technically an adult by 18 so should we not be able to drink like one? Froma Harrop, a nationally syndicated columnist, also thinks this. She states that “Age 18 traditionally separates minors from adults.
But one can’t legally buy a drink in America until age 21. Meanwhile, many states are now sending minors into the adult criminal justice system, even for nonviolent crimes.” (Harrop,2010). What Harrop is saying is that age 18 is what defines one as an adult so why can people not legally buy a drink? She thinks it’s absurd that we can be tried as an adult for the smallest of crimes but can not buy a drink. Age of adulthood was not always 18.
When the U.S. entered the Vietnam War the age of adulthood was 21.Then during the war the U.S.
saw a lot of 18-year-old children die, and that’s when the age changed. The age of adulthood varies from place to place. In the western world many countries believe the age of adulthood is mid-20s. From the unsettling sets of evidence people should be able to safely say that we need to raise the legal age for consumption of alcohol to 25.
Most of the evidence points to the facts that the human brain is not fully developed until 25, and the consumption of alcohol before 25 can cause addiction, depression, and multiple health problems. Let’s call upon the entire nation to make this change to not only protect the younger generations but also their and our futures.