The legal age of drinking and the reason for a specific “maturity/adulthood” level have been under question for some time. There are several opinions, which suggest for the minimum age to be lowered, while others argue for an increase. Considering the harmful effects of alcohol on the human organism, in both physical and mental ways, the minimum legal age to permit sale of alcohol should stay the same or be increased. In any case, before an informed decision is put worth, a detailed psychological and social research must be carried out.
The purchase of alcohol, its’ further intake, and the behavior, which results from the above, are all factors that have a common point – personality of the person and the social environment they live in. According to Ruth C. Engs, a professor of applied health sciences at Indiana University, the minimum age should be lowered, because it helps people to get used to the effects and the specifics of behavior or “rapport”, which come with reasonable consumption. Her article titled “Why the drinking age should be lowered: An opinion based upon research”, states that teenagers should be allowed to drink at the places of education and in the social environments; hence, lowering the minimum drinking age, because “in these situations responsible drinking could be taught through role modeling and educational programs” (Par. 1). However, an opposing opinion is that some social divisions or institutions must have a stricter view of the law due to the sensitive nature of the surrounding circumstances. For example, the students, who consume a shot of hard liqueur or a beer, will usually do 2 or more; as a result, their cognitive functions will be affected. The research has shown that alcohol impairs memory, retention, and logical analysis of information, and even the general interest of a person towards the subject at hand. This is related to the chemical structure of alcohol molecules, which are absorbed by the digestive system and are sent to the brain. As such, the real problem is not socialization or the learning of the way to behave around alcohol; it is the person and their understanding of the surrounding world (Welsh 67).
Scientists and researchers have shown that people start developing at a certain age. Some say that it is fourteen years old and the number goes up to the late teens. This might be true in relation to physical development of a person, their skeleton, organs, and brain, but it is not true when one analyzes the mind and its power. The numbers of connections, which are made between axons, brain’s cells, develop over a long time. There are many possible combinations, which go from one cell to another, on several levels, and this process keeps going into thirties and forties, depending on the person. If an individual is working on their mind, receiving new information, analyzing it, drawing conclusions, thus, arriving to new comprehension, the mind keeps developing. Memory also develops gradually and can be bettered with age, so it is possible to say that the mind does not stop developing at nineteen, the age, when drinking becomes legal at most of places, or even twenty-one, as in a number of states. This goes to show that simply being around alcohol, observing behavior of others, and talking about the attitudes towards it do not mean that the person will become wiser and will apply the learned information to a “healthy” consumption. The only way a person will get to know the real affects of alcohol consumption is by making a few mistakes, having one drink too many, and feeling sick.
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The socially accepted standards of drinking vary from one nation to another, and even the tolerance, which people have for the specific alcohol type or its amount, is different from one person to another. The norms of the society, enforcement, as well as consequences of lowering the drinking age will have a direct effect on the benefits and negative sides of the issue. The analysis must begin with the gathered evidence in accordance with the legal matters and the damage, which has resulted from alcohol intake. Everything that human beings do involves some form of memorization and learning, interacting with the exterior environment, and trying to figure out the interior nature of their personality. The standard for giving people the “adult freedom” permitted by the laws and norms of the society might be one age, but the majority of the population is not ready to act morally and civilly in all situations. As such, lowering the drinking age will only give more people access to alcohol, and it will be common for people to walk the streets without hiding.
Lowering the legal age of alcohol consumption will not change people’s personalities. Those, who are susceptible to drink more than usual amounts, will find the ways to consume alcohol, no matter what age they are. Parents are the primary caregivers, who teach their children how to consume responsibly. Environments that people grow up in show the teenagers that some things are better dealt with by the use of alcohol. The problem is not in the age, some might even argue that it is not the alcohol, which is harmful, but the society and living conditions, social class, and the pain, which people experience, make one look for the ways of escaping problems. Therapy classes teach that individuals must deal with their problems by figuring out what caused them. A special technique is shown to each individual, because everyone needs a personal approach, one that works for them. This means that the core of the society must change, and lowering the drinking age will not be the quickest solution to the problem. On the contrary, a closer control or monitoring system will cause many more benefits, because it will allow for proper statistics and accountability.
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Overall, the social problem or excessive alcohol consumption and the damage, which is the result of drunken uncontrollable behavior, will not be dealt with by lowering the drinking age. This is a great problem and a simple, quick solution will not change people. The social fabric must change through educational programs, social/community centers, and watches, which will provide the tools for managing people’s feelings and the uncontrollable need to consume large quantities of alcohol.
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