Most underage drinking 90 percent of it is in the form of binge drinking. People ages twelve to twenty drink eleven percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. Although young people drink less often than adults do, when they do drink, they drink more, exponentially increasing risks to health and safety. Drinking impairs judgment and can lead to poor decisions about engaging in risky behaviors that put one’s self and others at risk. Alcohol use by young people is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with terrible damage, but also because of the threat to their long-term development and well-being. Traffic crashes are perhaps the most visible of these dangers, with alcohol being implicated in nearly one-third of youth traffic fatalities. Underage alcohol use is also associated with violence, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors. All of these problems are amplified by teen drinking: The younger the drinker, the worse the problem. Moreover, heavy drinking by young adolescents can lead to mind brain damage.

            Teen brains are more vulnerable to alcohol. Research shows that the teen brain doesn’t fully develop until twenty-five. Alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting brain structure and function. Why do adolescents drink? As children move from adolescence to young adulthood, they encounter dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. Developmental transitions, such as puberty and increasing independence, have been associated with alcohol use. So in a sense, just being an adolescent may be a key risk factor not only for starting to drink but also for drinking dangerously (Bonnie and O’Connell). Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory and coordination.

            Bonnie states that by the time children are seniors in high school about thirty percent are drinking heavily at least once a month. And forty percent of full-time college students and more than thirty-six percent of other young adults report heavy drinking. The consequences and cost of youthful alcohol use are enormous. Many of these harmful consequences are immediate and all to evident injuries due to dangerous driving or violence, sexual assault and unwanted pregnancies, and educational failure. Some people believe that the dangers of underage drinking are at least partly attributed to the very fact that it is underage conduct. Obviously, lowering the minimum drinking age would reduce the amount of underage drinking. Teenage drinking has become one of the largest social issues among young people in America today. Although more than half of high schooler’s drinks on a regular basis, the problem is that they are not aware of how dangerous alcohol can actually be. The reality is that alcohol is often the cause of many problems among these teenagers. Simply put, alcohol ruins many young peoples lives, and is now of the most serious problems young people face.

             Drinking and driving is one large problem often linked with teenage drinking. Fatal alcohol related crashes make up twenty-five percent of all crashes included among young drivers. Alcohol dulls parts of the brain that are crucial to decision making, decreases the ability to concentrate, and slows the reaction time behind the wheel. Drunk drivers are treacherous on the road and can easily hurt themselves or someone innocent. Something big needs to be done, or this dangerous trend will continue to harm many people in the future. Another problem with underage drinking is the fact that they lose control of their actions. Alcohol often results in teens having risky sexual behavior. Raping’s, unplanned pregnancies, HIV infections, and sexually transmitted diseases are very commonly linked back to when they had been drinking. These young people lose judgment and many times do things they wouldn’t do if they were sober. Losing judgment results in many actions that are regretted and they then realize that they could have been avoided.

            Alcohol is implicated in automobile deaths. According to police reports, at least one driver has been drinking, in over thirty percent of fatal crashes… that proportion rises to almost sixty percent. (Levitt and Porter). Without knowing the fraction of drunk drivers on the road, however one cannot possibly draw conclusions about relative total crash risk of drinking versus sober drivers. There are many reasons why people drink and drive. Many people drive under the influence all the time. Drivers have a responsibility while drinking and driving. Drunk driving is a problem today in the United States. People need to be aware of the consequences it effect on people and realize drinking and driving is an issue and needs to stop. Why not ban alcohol? If it was illegal to drink there would be less drunk drivers.

            Changing the legal drinking age also results in altered availability of beverage alcohol to the affected population… For present purposes availability will be broadly defined as the ease with which alcoholic beverages can be obtained (wagenaar). The bar will get more college students into the bar and they won’t have a strict rule like they do now. It’ll also change their lifestyle because they won’t be as responsible for their actions as in jobs, school, lifestyle. They will worry more about partying and also, they will get out of hand with alcohol and not knowing there limit. In any given age group, heavy and binge drinkers are four to six times more likely than nondrinkers to say they cut classes or skipped school. They are twice as likely as nondrinkers to say that their school work is poor, and they report more frequently that they are disobedient at school. Among high school students, those who use alcohol are five times more likely to drop out than those who don’t use alcohol. These problems are not limited to the middle and high school setting; hangovers and drinking by college students lead to missed classes and falling behind in school work. Alcohol is implicated in more than forty percent of all college academic problems and in twenty-eight percent of all college dropouts.

            Burke states that underage drinking is interfering with children’s development… Alcohol is the foremost drug of abuse in the united states today. The consequences of alcohol abuse, including the disease of alcoholism, exact a far greater tool on our health and on our social well-being than the abuse of any other substance. Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone’s health. Today, many teenagers experience different things in the world. Whether it is their first date or first day in high school, teens are always eager to try something different or new. One of the things that teenagers try is drinking alcohol. It can be particularly stressful if you are the sober one taking care of your drunk roommate, who is vomiting while you are trying to study for an exam. Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it’s even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death. Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex. A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication. You should also know that a person’s blood alcohol concentration can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body.

            Those who support a legal drinking age of twenty-one argue that the law reduces alcohol consumptions throughout life by reducing adolescent’s consumption that sets the pattern for lifetime alcohol use… proponents cite research by neuroscientists on how alcohol affects adolescents brain development (Kaestner and Yarnoff). A person’s brain does not stop developing until his or her early to mid-twenty’s and adding alcohol to the mix is a recipe for disaster. The brain goes through dynamic change during adolescence, and alcohol can seriously damage long- and short-term growth processes. Frontal lobe development and the refinement of pathways and connections continue into the mid-twenty’s. Damage from alcohol at this time can be long-term and irreversible. In addition, short-term or moderate drinking can impair learning and memory far more in youth than in adults. Adolescents need only drink half as much as adults to suffer the same negative effects. A young person’s body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adult’s can. Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills and coordination. According to research, young people who begin drinking before age fifteen are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age twenty-one.

            Despite the fact that more adolescents use alcohol than any other drug, studies of teenage alcohol misuse are relatively rare… it focuses on three different dimensions of misuse high risk drinking, alcohol related problems and high consumption (Ellickson and Phyllis). Alcohol may also serve as a “gateway drug” into more serious drug use. Once teens have decided alcohol use is acceptable, they may feel other drugs are also okay. Impaired judgment may also lead to the experimentation with other drugs. Most teenagers like to abuse alcohol, it can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is also called alcoholism. Teenagers can be physically or mentally addicted to alcohol. It has a strong need, or craving, to drink. It feels like you must drink just to get by. Some teenagers are brought up with the attitude that drinking is pure evil. But most of the time this just causes rebellious behavior and makes them want to try it even more, and once they try it they could possibly get addicted, more senior high school students use alcohol than any other drug. Once a teenager gets completely smashed they are likely to do it again. Why? Well they will tell you that it’s fun, unless of course they had a really bad experience while drunk. The teens that do have fun will most likely continue drinking. Others will develop a dependency, possibly moving on to more dangerous drugs and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others.

            Overall, changing the drinking age should not be allowed because it can cause alcohol abuse, brain damage, and making bad decisions. Teenagers who use alcohol may have legal problems due to their behavior. Underage drinking is illegal, and teenagers who drink may engage in other illegal behaviors as well. Almost everyone can agree that alcohol should not be given or allowed to children or young adults under a certain age. Alcohol is a substance that is very dangerous and if it’s used incorrectly or immaturely the consequences can be great danger to the users or the ones around them. Alcohol is a dangerous substance. People under the age of twenty-one do not have the responsibility or the right to contain this substance. It is dangerous to the health and overall being of anyone. By putting this substance into one’s body one is putting themselves at risk for multiple things to happen, such as a health complication or other outcomes like bad sexual conduct or worse, rape. The drinking age should stay at twenty-one because by this age we have grown some responsibility and most of the growth of the brain has stopped by this age. Also, Most of these adults are responsible and know how to handle their alcohol. Teenagers, on the other hand, are not at all responsible. They only think about themselves and sometimes they do not think at all.

Works Cited

Kaestner, Robert, and Benjamin Yarnoff. “Long-Term Effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws on Adult Alcohol Use and Driving Fatalities.” The Journal of Law & Economics, vol. 54, no. 2, 2011, pp. 325–363., http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658486.

Ellickson, Phyllis L., et al. “Teenagers and alcohol misuse in the United States: by any definition, it’s a big problem.” Addiction 91.10 (1996): 1489-1504.
 
Levitt, Steven D., and Jack Porter. “How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 109, no. 6, 2001, pp. 1198–1237., http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/323281.
 
Wagenaar, Alexander C. “Effects of an Increase in the Legal Minimum Drinking Age.” Journal of Public Health Policy, vol. 2, no. 3, 1981, pp. 206–225., http://www.jstor.org/stable/3342367.
 
Thomas R. Burke. “The Economic Impact of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.” Public Health Reports (1974-), vol. 103, no. 6, 1988, pp. 564–568., http://www.jstor.org/stable/4628544.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (DOT), Washington, DC. Drinking Age 21: Facts, Myths and Fictions. 01 Jan. 1985. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED266337&site=ehost-live.

National Research Council. Reducing underage drinking: A collective responsibility. National Academies Press, 2004.