Solutions to Underage Drinking: Simpler than you think

Drinking alcohol, the world’s pass time. Anywhere in the world , alcohol is being consumed by men and women alike. It’s so popular it has trickled down to young ages who probably should know better. People under 21 are responsible for 10% of all alcohol consumed in America. But today it is a problem that many age groups suffer from. With drunk driving to alcohol poisoning, it is the cause of a lot of preventable deaths; according to The National Institute of Alcohol and Abuse (NIAAA) there are about 80,000 alcohol related deaths in the U.S. and 3.3 million globally per year. That is 6% of all global deaths. But no solution has worked so far. So how about the opposite as a solution. let the youngsters get in the action so that they can be more knowledgeable about it later in life. Not the worst idea ever, but here are some reasons why.

Drinking ages in the rest of the World

Barstool Sports drinking drink canada cheers
Canadians enjoying a drink Gif from Giphy

In most of the world the drinking age under 20. Will Fulton a writer for the Huffington post says “I remember being fascinated by the level of respect and control young Europeans had when they drank. Their explanation was they had been exposed to alcohol almost their entire lives, as enjoying a glass of wine at dinner is not uncommon for children as young as 12. These kids knew how much alcohol they could handle because they were taught about it in an upfront, transparent way. That’s not to say Europeans won’t sometimes overdo it, but as a whole, they seem to approach alcohol more responsibly than young Americans do.” Also the Post by Fulton states “a study by the World Health Organization showed that even though Americans drink less than Europeans, we die more from alcohol-related causes.” This information shows that it is not the age limit that leads to unsafe behaviour. It is a weak knowledge of alcohol and the effect it has on people. When parents can trust their children not all nights of drinking have to end in tragedy

Medical difference of ages

What exactly is the difference between a 18 and 21 year old brain anyhow? Dr. Nuestatter, a retired general practitioner says they are exactly the same considering the brain stops growing in the early teens. However this does not mean bad habits cannot form. A key piece to this is responsibility, that is: know your limits, understand that you can’t drive, and have people around you that you trust. But those rules don’t just apply to a 21 year old. Neither does being 21 allow someone to magically be able to abide by them.

 The Bingeing Problem

A lot of under age drinking is done on a binge. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08, it usually occurs after 4 or 5 in less than 2 hours. This is especially dangerous because the body can’t metabolize it all at once, which makes the user unaware of how drunk they will eventually get in the next half hour. Sometimes this can be lethal, death by alcohol poisoning.

How can this be avoided by lowering the drinking age? The binge comes from the availability to booze. When a teenager is faced with the opportunity to drink they will go all out. Not just because they are young and dumb but a “if not now then when” mentality. Sadly they don’t know where their next drink is coming from and how much. So like a squirrel stores nuts for winter, teens try to have the most memorable nights by drinking till they the can’t remember it. So if our age limit was reduced just maybe teens can be more lenient when deciding whether to have a hearty beverage now or later.

A man passed out from drinking Image by Pexels

The Legal to Parental Pressures

One of the reasons alcohol poisoning death happens to young adults is that they a scared to call and ask for help from police. This makes safety very difficult. Although there are laws in some states that protect underage drinking when calling in an alcohol related emergency (that teens probably don’t know about). But that does not protect youths from the wrath of their parents. Parents can punish their kids with no restrictions even though the law can’t in this situation. Anything from a slap on the wrist to complete lockdown until they are out of the house can be all the difference in a teens mind on whether to call for help or not if their friend is throwing up uncontrollably. That’s because most parents go along assuming there child is an angel, and the kids literally can’t imagine the consequences. That’s why when someone says “My mom/dad would kill me if they found out”, that’s the best example they have.

No kid can be mentally prepared to tell their parents the bad things they do. Even if that means life or death to one person at some stupid party. So if our age limit was brought down parents couldn’t be as mad or they would have to talk the their kid about their views on alcohol, and not after they are out in college living on their own pursuing the rest of their life goals.

The consequences of getting a minor rarely reflect the personality of person who has aspirations. These can affect college acceptance, getting a job. At 18 people can vote, get married, pay taxes, become a legal guardian, and go off to war. We must trust that as legal adults they will be responsible. Of course no age group is perfect; people over 21 also do stupid things with alcohol.


In short I believe that lowering the drinking age to 18 would be an effective way to create an environment where it is safe to do what you want and safely react to emergencies without negative consequences. These things happen no matter what age. 21 isn’t the magical age where one can fully understand their limit of alcohol. Prohibition, a national ban against alcohol didn’t work. So the government just let it be. Now the same problem has arose with the youth and the same result might be what is needed.


Featured Image provided by Pixabay





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