23 December 2017
Life and Death
While researching texts written about alcohol and legal drinking age, I found a few authors who published work about the affects alcohol has on an individual. These authors often placed the importance of keeping alcohol out of the hands of young induvial because death numbers will increase. These authors talked about the numerous reasons as why to keep the legal drinking age at 21 years old to keep the communities’ safe. My goal in this paper is to put the importance on safe drinking for anyone over the age of 21 but as well as put all the reasons behind keeping that the legal drinking age.
Alcohol has provided many functions for people throughout history, alcohol has played an important role in religion and worship. Alcoholic beverages have served as sources of needed nutrients, the have been widely known and used for their medicinal, antiseptic, and analgesic properties. They can also come into play when individuals are trying to enhance the enjoyment of life. Fermenting grain, fruit juice and honey have been around to make alcohol for thousands of years. Foundation For A Drug-Free World state, “In early Egyptian civilization these fermented beverages were known to exist. There is evidence of alcoholic drink in China around 7000 B.C, India between 3000 and 2000 B.C, Babylonians in 2700 B.C. During these periods alcohol was mainly used for medicinal purpose” (Foundation for A Drug-Free World). Beginning in the 18th century, the purpose of alcohol started to change and most governments did not have interest in them. Foundation For A Drug-Free World states, “In 1920 that’s when it all changed for the United States, by passing a law prohibiting the manufacture, sale, import, and export of intoxicating liquors” (Foundation for A Drug-Free World). In the United States, that’s when alcoholic beverages became known as “Moonshine” for the production of this alcohol was made in the night under moonlight in order to see so they were not caught by law. As well as the transportation of the Moonshine was done during the night for the same reason.
Alcohol comes in a liquid form and can be bought legally by an adult that is 21 years of age or older in the United States. Alcohol can have immediate effects on the body after even a small dose. According to health line, “while a small amount of alcohol can escape the body via urine and breathing, most of the alcohol a person consumes is absorbed into their bloodstream” (American Addiction Center). In other words, health line is informing the public that the full effect is not going to hit you right away because it will take time to fully enter your bloodstream. Even with the small amount leaving your body through breathing and going to the restroom it is not enough to counter the amount in the bloodstream. With the more alcohol that is consumed the greater of effect it has on an individual’s system. Many people do not understand what constitutes of a standard drink. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “one 12-ounce beer with about 5 percent alcohol content is a good example of a standard drink. Five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40 percent alcohol) distilled spirits or liquor are also examples of standard drinks.” (American Addiction Center). NIAAA’s point is that majority of people do not understand how to consume a standard amount of alcohol putting others at risk. People are drinking more than one should in order to still safely operate a vehicle.
Young adults are in a developmental stage in which they mature physically, mentally, and behaviorally. They are acquiring the skills that allow them to live independently growing into self-dependent adults. During this period is marked frequently by social interactions with peers, exploration of behavior, with an increase of risk taking actions. Often involves the self-confidence acquired from the use of alcohol. The brain undergoes enormous structural and functional changes during the time period of their new life experiences. Based on the group of neurons that are regularly stimulated also known as plasticity can affects the nerve cells connected to the brain. “This process eliminates the unnecessary and unused cells resulting in only the neurons that are meaningful to the body”(NIAAA). In other words, NIAAA believes that if you add alcohol to the equation while the body is developing the brain might eliminate cells that are necessary for the future. Adolescence being such an important time of brain development that the use of alcohol on the brain can have a negatively impact during that period. Adolescence in humans is defined as the second decade of life. NIAAA states, “One brain region where particularly extensive remodeling occurs is the frontal region of the outer layer of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—which is thought to be involved in working memory, voluntary motor behavior, impulse control, rule learning, spatial learning, planning, and decisionmaking”(NIAAA). NIAAA’s point is that adolescent time period is the most important time of a humans’ life because it’s when an individual’s gains and develops all the necessary skills to be a successful adult. So, alcohol should be left out of the picture since it can hinder the full development of those skills.
Majority of privileges and responsibilities are granted to individuals at the age of 18 years of age into adulthood. From legally being able to vote, enlist in the military, move out on your own if you no longer want to live with your parents but is that the final point of maturity in humans? No matter how smart a teen may act their brain has not fully develop. The part of the brain that allows them to make rational decisions isn’t “fully developed until the age of 25” (The University of Rochester). The University of Rochester’s point is that young adults don’t fully mature until 25 so by keeping the drinking age at 21 their decision making skills are close to fully development taking away that many more opportunities of making bad decisions. Recent study done by University of Rochester found “that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part if the brain that responds to situations with good judgement and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teen process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part”(The University of Rochester). The university’s point is that adults will take the time to figure out all the outcomes that could possibly affect their life forever. While teens do not necessarily care or consider the outcomes that come in the future because they have temporary happiness. Putting teens into a greater risk of peer pressure meaning that if an individual is around partners or friends they are 50 percent likely to be a risk taker around them. With keeping the drinking age at 21 it gives individuals a couple more years to get past the period where they are thinking with emotions rather than with logic. Even though some young adults are more capable of handling things by themselves and other aren’t necessarily ready for full responsibility. This will keep the number of death tolls down from drinking and driving from the young adults.
The Cool Spot state, “The death toll caused by alcohol consumed by minors for each year is estimated to be 5,000 deaths” (The Cool Spot). The Cool Spots point is that there are too many accidents among minors that could be prevented from eliminating alcohol. Cool Spot also state, “In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading most cause of death in people aged 15 to 20″ (The Cool Spot). Cool spot’s point is that even without alcohol, motor vehicles are very dangerous and always need to be handled with care since they are the leading cause of deaths. When alcohol is put into the equation the chances are doubled in teens compared to individuals that are of legal drinking age. According to Edgar Snyder & Associates, ” if a person under 21 years of age is found guilty of an alcohol violation, that, person shall be fined. In addition, he or she may be assigned 8-12 hours of community service……suspended license or permit for 30 days for first offense… 60 for second offense, and 180 days for each subsequent offense” (Edgar Snyder & Associates). Snyder’s point is that in the state of Texas violations are taken seriously in order to keep the state safe and disciplined. Texas alcoholic beverage commission state, if a minor is caught driving under the influence an “Alcohol awareness class” might be required along with the suspension of license of permit (Edgar Snyder & Associates). TABS point is that there are serious outcomes that can come from driving under the influence one possibility being killing another individual while trying to make it home. So, the awareness class informs them how much danger they are putting themselves and others from a bad decision.
A major responsibility in consuming alcohol is not over drinking causing alcohol poisoning. Mayo Clinic state, alcohol poisoning symptoms consist of ” Confusion, Vomiting, Seizures, Slow breathing, Blue-tinged skin or pale skin, low body temperature, passing out”(Mayo Clinic). Mayo’s point is some of the symptoms can claim an individual’s life if not recognized in time to be treated by a by stander or be taken to the hospital. If someone is suspected to have alcohol poisoning it is suggested a by stander should follow these steps; first call 911 to have professional assistants on the way, be prepared to provide important information such as location of the event and individuals name if known, never leave the person alone if unconscious wait until 911 has arrived, and help a person who is vomiting so they do not choke on their own vomit if laying causing death. Alcohol poisoning can be caused by what is known as “binge drinking”. Binge drinking is defined by Mayo Clinic as “a pattern of heavy drinking when a male rapidly consumes five or more alcoholic drinks within two hours, or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours” (Mayo Clinic). Mayo’s point is that binge drinking is very unhealthy for an individual of any age especially under the age of 21 because there is too much alcohol running through the bloodstream.
All the alcohol that is entered into an individual’s bloodstream while the consumption is metabolized in the liver. According to the University of New York, “the liver metabolizes alcohol at the same rate for everyone, regardless of weight, sex or race” (The University of New York). The University of New York’s point is that weight or sex does not help an induvial to sober up faster to be of the legal drinking limit in their state. The University of New York also state, “On average, the liver takes one hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol. For most people, one ounce of alcohol will produce a .015 blood-alcohol concentration” (The University of New York). The University’s point is to inform readers of the damage alcohol can have on the liver from the concentration in the bloodstream.
The law for the legal drinking limit will vary from state to state. According to the state of Texas, “driving while intoxicated (DWI) means drunk driving, and the state uses your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine whether you’re too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle (DMV.org). In other words Texas DMV believe that the roads should stay safe for everyone on them to get home safe to their families. Texas DMV laws state, blood alcohol content “cannot exceed .08%”(DMV.org). Texas’ point is that if you are driving under the influence any induvial will be arrested and taken to jail, in order to keep the roads safe for law aboding citizens.
Just because underage drinking has become a major problem throughout the United States doesn’t mean the legal drinking age should be changed to 18 years of age. By doing this it is hurting not only the United States from greater death tolls but the individual doing the drinking. It might not be visible to the naked eye but it starts by hindering their development of the brain that allows them to make rational decisions. For the benefit of everyone the government needs to keep the legal drinking age the same.