You’re considered a legal adult when you turn 18, but somehow you’re not “adult” enough to drink alcohol. Isn’t there something strange about that?
After three years of college, I’ve seen and experienced quite a few things. The late nights spent studying, the midnight runs to McDonald's for ice cream and fries, the spirited sporting events … All rather cliche college experiences. But perhaps the most cliche, and the most relevant to this discussion, is the partying — the binge drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five American college students drink alcohol, and half of those partake in binge drinking. It was also found that 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 die each year as a result of injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol. Clearly something needs to change. I believe that one of the best, most feasible ways to go about this issue is to lower the drinking age. And it’s not just about the logical reasons — it’s also about safety. And here’s why:
1. It wouldn’t be such a taboo.
It’s common knowledge that we’re more inclined to do the things we’re not supposed to do. There’s something badass about breaking the law. It’s an adrenaline rush to think that you could get caught. This only incites more people to drink. Add this to the peer pressure that surfaces during parties, and more often than not, you’ll be making yourself comfortable next to a toilet bowl. If it weren’t as badass anymore, people would feel less inclined to get plastered every weekend.
2. Consumption of hard alcohol would decrease.
First off, vodka is cheap (at least, it is if you’re drinking something nasty like Karkov or Burnett’s), and it doesn’t take much. A lot of people who are about to stumble through campus to a house party don’t want to get caught carrying anything, so they take a few shots of vodka to hold them over. Or if they’re willing to risk it, the only thing that’s small enough to carry discreetly needs to fit into a flask or a small water bottle. No one is bringing a bottle of wine to a party, and no one is rolling a keg down the street either. If there weren’t this fear of being caught, people would be more likely to have beer or other drinks with lower alcohol content, resulting in fewer dangerous situations. Which leads me to my next point…
3. There would be fewer deaths of college students.
Many college deaths result from alcohol poisoning. When someone is clearly in need of medical assistance at a party, it’s not uncommon for an underage drinker to neglect to call an ambulance since they’re scared of getting in trouble. There is such a thing as a Good Samaritan law, but when you’re intoxicated, that doesn’t really cross your mind. With more students of age on college campuses, people would be more likely to seek help for someone with alcohol poisoning.
As a student from Minnesota, I think one of the dangers that is often forgotten is cold weather. If you’ve ever been to a party that’s about to get busted, it’s pretty much a free-for-all. When the police arrive and it’s -20 degrees outside, no one is going to take the time to stop and find their coat if there’s a chance to make an escape. One guy I know even left his shoes and ran a couple of miles through the snow! And it’s so easy for friends to get separated. If someone is inebriated, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him or her to pass out in the snow. A lot of people have died for these reasons. Not to mention, you’re probably going to injure yourself while running away, especially if your getaway involves jumping a fence or running through a heavily forested area. If college kids weren’t scared, these things wouldn’t happen.
4. If you can serve in a war, you should be able to have a drink.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.
5. People will drink more responsibly.
When the drinking age in the United States was 18, there were underage drinkers. Now that the drinking age is 21, there are still underage drinkers. There's not really any avoiding the fact that there will always be people drinking underage. There wouldn’t necessarily be many more people drinking alcohol — there would simply be more people drinking responsibly.
6. Almost every other country in the world has a lower drinking age.
Literally. According to the International Center for Alcohol Policies, there are only five other countries in the world with a minimum drinking age of 21 (Chile, Egypt, Honduras, Russia and Samoa). The other countries have their ages set somewhere between 16 and 20, and some don’t even have a minimum age (although even I have to admit that might get a little out of hand). The most comparable country to the United States is probably Canada, where the drinking age is 18 or 19 depending on the province. Canada always seems to be one step ahead. We should be more like Canada.
If you can vote, gamble, serve in a war and live on your own, you should be able to have a drink. Lowering the drinking age just makes sense. It would lead to more responsible drinking, and more responsible drinking leads to greater overall safety on college campuses. So I say, cheers to that!