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Drinking Age of 21 Confirmed to Save Lives

Glass of WineAlthough an average of 5,000 youths under the age of 21 die from unintentional injuries, homicides, and suicides related to alcohol in the United States each year, a new review recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs states that alcohol-related deaths would be higher if not for the legal drinking age of 21.

Age-related alcohol laws first appeared in the United States early in the 20th century. The first law laws prohibited sales of alcohol to underage individuals. Over the years, underage drinking policies become more restrictive. The current law adopted by all 50 states in 1988 prohibits the use of alcohol in individuals under the age of 21.

In 2006, the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act was challenged by a nonprofit organization called Choose Responsibility, which argued that young adults between the ages of 18 and 20 should have the right to decide whether or not to use alcohol. After presidents of universities and colleges throughout the United States created the Amethyst Initiative and called for a re-evaluation of the legal drinking age, public health experts began to study the effects of the current drinking age of 21.

For the present review, researchers led by Professor William DeJong of Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts analyzed all the research on the current drinking age conducted since 2006.

Since the adoption of the age-21 law, individuals under the age of 21 have been consuming less alcohol and are less likely to be involved in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.

In a 2011 study, 36 percent of college students admitted to binge drinking, or consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting. In 1988, 43 percent of college students admitted to binge drinking, indicating a seven percent reduction in binge drinking among college students as a result of the age-21 law.

Among high school seniors, the rates of binge drinking decreased from 35 percent in 1988 to 22 percent in 2011.

Prof. DeJong admits that young adults and minors will drink alcohol despite age-related laws. However, the current age-21 law has decreased alcohol consumption in underage individual and has reduced the number of alcohol-related deaths in this population.

One significant concern remains in regards to underage drinking in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals between 12 and 20 years old drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the country, with 90 percent of this amount consumed while binge drinking.

Better education may help decrease the levels of drinking among this younger population. Otherwise, it may so happen that the youngsters, by the time they turn 30, would end up being alcoholics, who would be in desperate need of professional help, which can be found at Recovery Institute of Ohio, to sober their lives. This is because, by then, such people would have destroyed all their personal relations due to alcoholism and would be desperate to mend them back, but they would not be able to do it alone as they wouldn’t be able to refrain from drinking for a day; hence, the help (or better education).

Anyway, prof. DeJong concludes that the current age-21 law should remain, noting, “Some people assume that students are so hell-bent on drinking, nothing can stop them. But it really is the case that enforcement works.”

References

Drinking Age of 21: Review Confirms It Saves Lives: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273102.php
Highlight on Underage Drinking: https://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/UnderageDrinking.html

Image Credits

Glass of Wine: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1170594

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