Wherever you are from, wherever you were raised or wherever you travel, every country, city and community has different laws, regulations and cultures surrounding alcohol. For example, in the United Kingdom it is legal to consume alcohol from the age of 18, in some cases 16. Whereas in America the minimum legal drinking age is 21.
The actual pros and cons of having a higher or lower drinking age are tirelessly argued. However, my concern is the success, or should I say lack of success, of these laws irrespective of the age.
Whether a country strictly enforces the minimum legal drinking age or not, underage drinking is happening, and it’s happening all around the world. The average age of when someone first consumes alcohol is now 12 years old, so what good are the legal age limits even achieving?
In my opinion and as much research would support, most minimum drinking ages are ineffective and counter-productive, especially in the United States. By the age of 18 more than 70% of American teenagers have drank at least one alcoholic drink.
5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol-related incidents such as car-crashes, alcohol poisoning, drowning, injuries and suicides. Within this, 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 years old die yearly due to alcohol consumption.
Regardless of the genuine benefits of having a minimum drinking age such as the medical, academic, physical, mental and safety benefits the fact is that underage drinking is a significant problem and usually entails sever ‘binge drinking. Obviously legal drinking ages minimize encouraging even younger individuals to drink however; I’d argue that the alcohol culture you are raised within constructs your behavior and conduct towards the substance.
Alcohol shouldn’t be something that teenagers should be told to avoid or associate with punishment. Within many communities alcohol is linked with death, injury, assault and impaired decision-making. But, so is…learning to drive. Honestly, though. When you reach the legal drinking age you are handed your license and let free to buy and consume as much alcohol as you want.
But think about it…
Most parents invest a lot of time teaching their child to drive, enforcing road safety and providing them with vital practice so when they receive their own driving permit they are capable, experienced, informed and therefore prepared to deal with any situation thrown at them. Maybe the same approach to alcohol would encourage more responsible drinking, rather than rebellious and dangerous binge drinking.
Just some food for thought. Well, drink I guess.