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Essay/Term paper: Legal drinking age

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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Drinking Age
Did you know that in the year 1980 the legal drinking age was only 18? In 1987 there was a law passed that said in order to drink legally and to buy alcohol a person had to be 21. At the age of 18 people are allowed to buy tobacco, vote, get married without parental consent, and even join the armed forces, so why can"t some one who is 18 by alcohol. This is a question I have; I believe that the legal drinking age should be 18. Dr. Ruth Engs, a professor of Applied Heath Sciences at Indiana University, agrees with me also. She states, "the legal drinking age should be lowered to about 18 or 19 and young adults should be allowed to drink in controlled environments." (Engs) These controlled places include restaurants, taverns, pubs, and official school and university functions.
College students under the age of 21 are drinking heavily and by some are being called binge drinkers. Binges drinkers are people who have more than five drinks at least once a week. Professor Engs brings up a reason for these actions. She calls it the theory of reactance. "The theory of reactance suggests that, whenever people believe their freedom either has or will be unjustly threatened, they enter into a reactance motivational state and act regain control by not complying." (Engs and Hanson) This means that the underage students are drinking more so because they are not supposed to. Drinking is traditionally important to college life; many activities are focused around drinking. When the right to drink is taken away from these students then the reactance theory comes into effect. They are not getting the right to drink freely and so they go out and deviate from the laws. Professor Engs has tested this theory by using a student alcohol questionnaire. The questionnaire tested 3,375 students that were both underage and of legal age. The questionnaire showed that 81.2% of the underage students were drinkers, which was compared to the legal age students that had a percentage of 75.3%. Out of the 81.2% of the underage drinkers about 24% of them are heavy drinkers. This compares the lower percentage of heavy drinkers that are legal age; they only have a percentage rate of 15.93%.
In Boulder Colorado is a similar debate going on, whether to lower the drinking age or not. Tom Koby, Police Chief of Boulder Colorado, also believes that the drinking age needs to be lowered. He thinks that they need to focus on the underlying issue of alcohol abuse more than on people who are consuming alcohol illegally. "The problem is we"ve forgotten to teach people how to use alcohol. There is nothing fundamentally bad about alcohol." (Bregman) Professor Engs says, "responsible drinking can be taught through educational programs and role modeling." Both Police Chief Koby and Professor Engs think that by educating students about the effects of alcohol and what may happen while intoxicated will help lower the percentage of binge drinkers. Along with Professor Engs, Koby thinks, "when used properly alcohol can serve important societal functions." Professor Engs says that minors should be able to drink legally at school and university functions. I believe this is one type of function that Police Chief Koby is talking about.
The legal drinking age today is set at 21 years of age. I am a 20-year-old college student that does not have the right to go out and buy or consume alcohol legally. I am registered to vote, I am registered for the selective service, meaning I can be drafted by the armed forces if necessary, but I cannot go out and drink a beer with my friends. I am old enough to get married. I can even buy tobacco. Tobacco is just as bad if not worse for a person than drinking a beer or two at the end of the day. Responsible drinking can be taught to students and if the drinking age was 18 there would be less problems with students and young adults who feel they need to deviate from the norm.

 

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