Free Legal Age To Drink In United States Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Alcoholism, Alcohol, Law, Drinking, Age, Drugs, Alcohol Abuse, Health

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/12

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Background
Alcoholism is a term defined for problems related to the alcohol such as cancer, heart diseases, cirrhosis, dementia and depression. In today’s world, people are often found with a habit of uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages. Knowing the impact of such huge intake of alcohol into their body, people still consume it in large volumes. They prefer to consume it irrespective of the impact of alcohol on their lives, in their personal relationships, on their families, on their social standing, and on their social and economic issues (Brad 337-356).
The Federal Government through the legislative arm has passed and enacted a law that provides for the minimum drinking age. The law was enacted in the year 1984 from the birth of National Minimum Legal Drinking Act (Cook 97). The act prohibits the purchase, possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons less than 21 years.
Alcoholism is considered to be an addictive illness, and hence, even the medical field considers it as a disease. Those who are suffering from alcoholism, are often found to be treating with one or the other medical practitioners and psychological counselors. Psychiatry even terms it as alcohol usage disorder or alcohol abuse and the alcoholic becomes a liability to the family as well as the society. Alcoholism has impacts on both body and mind. (Schuckit, Smith,&Danko 805-812).
Despite these facts, the legal drinking age in some of the countries seems to be less as compared to other, which should not be allowed. The Legal Drinking Age is the age at which an individual is allowed to purchase and consume alcohol and alcohol products in the United States. Alcohol products include beer, wines and distilled spirits (Cook 31-47). The legal age is for consuming alcohol is 21 in the United States. Setting a legal drinking age has raised mixed reactions in the society that will be addressed by this paper. In our modern society, brewed beer, fermented wine and distilled spirits play a crucial role in the social setting and lives of the people. People engage in drinking for religious purposes, for social purposes, festivals and celebrations (Frank 754-768). However, research has shown that though the drinks are not bad, they pose a risk to peoples’ health if abused. The ethanol molecule that is the active ingredient otherwise referred to as alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier. The effect of the molecule in the brain is what we call “being drunk” (Boyle 50).
In this state of brain, the normal functioning of the brain is affected and can cause an individual acting differently from when he/she is sober. It has been shown to cause visual impairments and interfere with distance judgment. As per the NHTSA reports of 2001, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2001 has reflected the results of the visual impairments in the increased accidents caused by drunken people on the roads. Alcoholics are often found to get disturbed mentally, and hence they do not find comfortable in the given social environment. It leads to severe body and mental stress, which could impact on any body organs during any time such as the brain, liver and the heart. The given individual’s mental health, his age, his family history, and his gender might play an important role in determining the risk associated with such disorder (Dart 41-67).
Drinking has also been linked with memory loss. Regular drunkards reach a point where they cannot function properly in their sober state of mind. Perpetual alcoholics have difficulty in balancing work, their family and their drinking habits (Parry, Patra&Rehm1718-1724). The result of this has been felt deeply in the family institutions and has led to an increase in the divorce rate in situations where the drunkard values his beer more than the family or his job (Philippe& Mitchell 70).
Today, lifestyle non-communicable diseases are on the rise claiming more lives than all other causes combined. A 2012 study conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHS) shows that consumption of beer is a risk factor for certain health problems. . The conditions that are associated with beer consumption are liver cirrhosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease among many others. Consumption of alcoholic products by expectant mothers affects the health of the mothers and the unborn child. . Children born of these mothers are of low birth weight and exhibit mental problems due to slow brain formation and maturity. Sometimes they exhibit difficult in speech development and the problem may persist as they grow older. (CDC 13).
With alcohol being associated with all these negative attributes, it has necessitated the state to come up with laws that will guide and control its use. The key aspect of this is to protect the future generation and ensure a healthy nation (Carlan, Nored&Downey 11-21). There is the need to protect the minors from engaging in the use of alcohol. Moreover, recent research has shown that the use of alcohol is linked to the use of other drugs like marijuana, tobacco and other hard drugs (Fernando, 918-925).

Argument

The minimum drinking age refers to the minimum age at which a person is allowed by law to purchase and consume alcohol in a jurisdiction area. In the United States, the legislature arm of the Government is tasked with forming, passing, and enacting laws pertaining the legal drinking age. The laws are meant to provide guidelines and directions on where, when and who can purchase and consume alcohol and alcoholic products (David & Taylor 91).
Many countries and Nations in the globe have set their drinking age at 18 years. In some others, the legal drinking age is different from this one. An example is Australia where they have sat their minimum drinking age to be 16 years. Some Nations lack the information about the use of alcohol, or the minimum drinking age is not available. According to the International Centre for Alcoholic Policies, Countries like China does not have any information pertaining to this and hence, there is a need for proper investigation in alcoholism.
Some countries place their religious beliefs higher than the laws. In the country like Saudi Arabia where majority are strict Muslims, they do not allow selling or consumption of alcoholic products either by Muslims or non-Muslims in their country. The Islamic religion forbids this, and the religion is their guiding principle (Saunders & Rey 16). The minimum legal drinking age in the United States has been set at 21. However, the enactment is subject to revision and renewal as it is deemed fit in the state governments as the Federal Government has delegated the responsibilities to the state government.
There is a rising argument that the Federal Government enacted a centralized law to govern the use of alcohol and alcohol products, in 1984. The law was uniformly observed in all the states in America rather than mandating it to the county Governments. However, this raised a major concern pertaining to the legal minimum drinking age to be set by the Federal Government. . Some people argue that the minimum legal drinking age should be set at eight or six years. The group of people argues that it is important for the young people to be introduced to drinking at an early age. In so doing, the young people will adopt drinking as a habit and by the time they attain the age of twenty-one, they will have learned how to drink responsibly. (Wagoner 99-117).
Rogers argues that, it is safer for the young people to start drinking early in the confines of the law instead of sneaking in the backyards where they can be introduced to other hard drugs. Moreover, when they are drinking within the confines of the law, they will be in the company of mixed populations, adults included. The adults can guide and show the young people how to drink responsibly. Contrary, when the young go looking for the drinks in the backyards, there is no one who cares for them, and they can end up with more problems than in the former case (Rogers 85).
The stand has raised mixed reaction from religious, learning, and social institutions. Allowing children to drink has been termed as immoral and downgrading in the social settings and ethics. Having a society of drunken children puts at risk the future of the nation, economically, morally and socially, because if children become unhealthy, addicted to an unforgiving habit then what good will they pass on to the future generations and how will they serve the country? The argument behind this is that alcohol use has been associated with slowing mental abilities of its users. Allowing children to consume alcohol will affect their brain growth, their school performance, and their overall performance in their later adult lives in life. Secondly, alcohol is addictive. Allowing the children to consume alcohol at an early age would lead to a future adult generation that is reliant to alcohol and cannot perform unless under intoxication (Parry, Patra&Rehm1718-1724).
The use of alcohol has been linked with other social vices. One of the social vices associated with the use of alcohol is loosening in morals that lead to prostitution and drug abuse. Prostitution comes about in two scenarios. The first is in pursuit of the money to purchase the alcohol and alcohol products by the minors and even the mature people who are financially challenged. They exchange sexual favors for the beer. The other aspect is the loss of personality and morals accompanied by the state of drunkenness. In the temporary moments of drunkenness, a person may lose the sense of morals and in the excitement find that he/she has been involved in sexual encounters that were unplanned (Brad337-356).
According to David and Taylor, the other vice that comes with alcohol use is drug abuse, drug pushing and involvement in petty crimes like stealing and thieving. The minors and the economically challenged will engage in stealing from the families and neighbors to satisfy their drinking urge. They may also indulge in pushing drugs to earn a dime for purchasing alcohol. In the drinking places, they may be introduced to the use of other drugs (David & Taylor 21-31). A perpetual drunkard has alcohol on top of his/her priority list.
On the other hand, some of the people who take excessive alcohol in their daily consumption can damage any organ, including the brain. There could be several medical and psychiatric problems resulting from alcoholism to the given individual. As per one of the medical statistics reports by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol is found to be a major causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions. The major ones include – mouth, stomach, throat, liver, depression, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and so on. The disorders resulting from alcoholism ranked third after high blood pressure and tobacco smoking, as per the survey results in 2010 (Heilig et al. 169-184).
The excessive use of the money in purchasing alcohol may come at the expense of other important aspects of life like family neglect, abscond of duties in workplaces and breakdown in the social relationships. Owing to these factors, the minors have brought another proposition forward in respect to the use of alcohol. It proposes that minors should be given alcoholic beverages by their parents or guardians in small controlled amounts as it happens in Italy and Mexico. This should be served at dinner tables and other family gatherings (Carlan 63-69).

Evidence

Alcohol use has been the key cause of fatal car accidents in the United States of America. The recent data by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety shows that drunken minors cause 23% of the road accidents. Drunken adults cause another 16% of the total road accidents according to the Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US department, 2001. The recent data released by NHTSA indicates that every year more than 4300 minors die of drinking.
The use of alcohol by persons aged between 12-25 years has adverse negative effects in their performances, at school, in their workplaces, in their homes and in their social life. These people perform at a lower output than would have been otherwise when not under alcohol. They have a weak memory; misjudge distances and the lack of punctuality. Professional researchers such as Fernando and his co-workers working with the people in the above age bracket released the above report.
Fernando and his team released a report "Into the World of Illegal Drug Use: Exposure Opportunity and Other Mechanisms Linking the Use of alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Cocaine”, pertaining to the linkage of alcohol use and other drugs. The report shows that, minors who engage in alcohol use are five times more likely to be introduced to other drugs than the non-alcoholics (Fernando 922). In the year 2013, research by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in collaboration with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was done. The study sought the effect of alcohol on the brain development and wit. The research showed that alcohol users suffered from memory lapses and slow conceptualization linked with slowed brain activity. The drunken persons are also not rational, are easily excited and some violent. The violent are a potential risk in the society for they can engage either in meaningless arguments leading to fights and chaos, at home or in the public places (Amandor 59).
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the year 2011 released the report that linked the use of alcohol and the risk factor to several non-communicable diseases. The research carried out showed that various consumption of alcohol was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, several cancerous strains, liver disease, and pancreatitis. The National Health Service has also released a report in the year 2014 that links use of alcohol by expectant mothers and brain damage to the unborn child (NHS). Based on the arguments illustrated above, and the evidences thereof, it is crucial that the use of alcohol and alcohol products be strictly regulated.
As per the U.K. governmental reports in 2011, there were about 9,000 deaths resulting from direct alcohol usage. The weaker sections of the society are found to be indulging into excessive intake of alcohol, and hence, their mortality rates are higher than the good and civilized sections of the society. In England alone, in 2012, there were about 1.25 million alcohol-related medical cases, which was nearly 140% increase since 2002. In the period between 2002 and 2010, about 90,000 children of age below 18 years, were admitted to the hospital, just because of intake of alcohol. It has been also noted that, patients that were suffering from alcohol usage disorders were majorly suffering from liver disease, and this also caused the highest mortality rates (Breese, Sinha, &Heilig 149-171).
As per the World Health Organization reports, it has been found that, people of the age-group 60-74 years, were now getting more admitted to the hospitals, not because of deteriorating age or any other disorders, but due to alcohol usage disorders. Many accidents that happen on the roads are resulting because the drivers are drunk, and are not aware of the vehicles that come across, during their driving. Even, alcohol abuse has increased a lot, and as per one of the reports, there were about 915,000 offences noted in 2011.
The government is spending nearly £10 billion every year, after alcohol-related crimes. Hence, not only the body and mind are affected by the given individual, but one also loses his family, his own life, his friends, and his reason for living in this world. He thereby loses his individuality in the given world, and hence, the government needs to take steps to prevent the usage of such alcohol. Hence, there is a need to put restriction first of all on the usage of alcohol and then focus upon the issue of deciding the legal age of drinking alcohol. It is in no way assisting or helping any individual in his or her life.

Methods of Restriction and Guidance in the Use of Alcohol

The law enacted by the Federal Government that gives an age restriction for consuming alcohol needs to be put into use for proper control on alcohol consumption. However, the act provides exceptions for consumption of the alcoholic beverages by the people who have not attained the legal age. In the act, these persons can only consume beer in the company of their parents, legal guardian, or spouse who has attained the legal drinking age. (NHTSA 8). The act also allows the use of alcoholic products for medicinal purposes for the minors if a licensed practicing physician or pharmacist has provided the prescription like a cough syrup that contains a very slight amount that a child would consume in small portions only.
The act also provides for the distance to be observed by the businesses selling alcohol products from schools, religious institutions, and living areas. The act provides for the penalties to be enacted and the legal repercussions for anybody who violates this law. There remain many individuals who still consume alcohol, overruling the law and set a bad example for the young observing them and many ruins their families and lives over it. By strict implementation of the law, many lives can be saved, and observation of rules will get inculcated in people and these values will pass on to the future generations.

Conclusion

However, the use of alcohol by minors remains a key concern in the United States. They find a way of obtaining alcoholic products using adults. The impact of this law has seen a rise of a class of people who make a life by smuggling alcohol and selling it to minors at a higher price than is in the shops. Hence, there is a need for proper legal intervention on this issue, and finally, decide upon the legal age of drinking for the minors and other individuals in a given nation.

References

Amador, C. Violent Behaviour, Drunkenness, Drug use and Social Capital. Spain: European Institute of Studies on Prevention, 2011. Print.
APIS.The 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act. 2015. Webpage. 13 February 2015.
Boyle, P. Alcohol: Science, Policy and Public Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.
Brad, Karrol. "Women and alcohol use disorders: a review of important knowledge and its implications for social work practitioners". Journal of social work 2.3 (2002): 337-356.
Breese, G.R., R., Sinha, and M., Heilig. (2011). "Chronic alcohol neuroadaptation and stress contribute to susceptibility for alcohol craving and relapse." Pharmacology & Therapeutics 129.2: (2011) 149-171.
Carlan, Philip, Lisa Nored and Ragan Downey.An Introduction to Criminal Law.Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011.
CDC. CDC Fact Sheets - Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age. 19 November 2014. Webpage. 10 February 2015.
Cook, Philip, J. Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.
Dart, Richard. Medical Toxicology. USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003. Print.
David, Alan, K and Robert, B Taylor.Taylor's Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenges: A Handbook. New York: Springer, 2005. Print.
Fernando, F, A, W. "Into the World of Illegal Drug Use: Exposure Opportunity and Other Mechanisms Linking the Use of alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Cocaine." American Journal of Epidemiology 155.10 (n.d.): 918-925.
Frank, F, J, C. "Tobacco taxes as a tobacco control strategy." An international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals and others in tobacco control 116.5 (2012): 754-768.
Heilig, M., M., Egli, J.C., Crabbe, and H.C., Becker. "Acute withdrawal, protracted abstinence and negative affect in alcoholism: are they linked?" Addiction Biology, 15.2 (2010): 169-184.
International Center for Alcohol Policies."Drinking Age Limits." ICAP REPORTS 4. 1998. Print.
NHS.org. Pregnant drink binges harm kids' mental health. 2014. 12 February 2015.Internet source.
NHTSA."Community how to Guide on Underage Drinking Prevention." 2001. Document.
Parry, C, D, J Patra and J Rehm. "Alcohol consumption and non-communicable diseases: epidemiology and policy implications." Addiction 106.10 (2011): 1718-1724.
Philippe, De Witte and Mack-Jr Mitchell.Underage Drinking.A Report on Drinking in the Second Decade of Life in Europe and North America. Louvain-La-Neuve: Presses Universities, 2012. Print.
Rodgers, Paul. United States Constitutional Law: An Introduction. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2011. Internet resource.
Saunders, John and Joseph Rey.Young People and Alcohol: Impact, Policy, Prevention, Treatment. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
Schuckit, M.A., T.L., Smith, and G.P., Danko. "A comparison of factors associated with substance-induced versus independent depressions". Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 68.6 (2007): 805-812.
Simon, Rita, J. A Comparative Perspective on Major Social Problems. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2001. Print.
Wagoner, Kimberly G., et al. "A review of social host policies focused on underage drinking parties: suggestions for future research." Journal of drug education 42.1 (2012): 99-117.

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