Essay 2 (Should the Drinking Age be 21?)

My research question is, “Should the Drinking Age be 21?” Approximately four years ago a wrote a paper over the drinking age and I wanted to due further research to see if there had been any new attempts at either lowering or raising the legal drinking age. I also wanted to see if my perspective on the matter would change at all.

My research process was rather simply; I went through sources that I had used in the past to see if they would still be of use to me and found multiple connections to other sites and articles that were quite valuable to my research. I also made good use of the library’s databases.

Crecca, Donna. “Legal Drinking Age.” Our Thinking About Drinking. Brown-Forman, 1/22/2014, Web, 10/08/2014

The research titled the “Legal Drinking Age” is research pulled from a website called Our Thinking About Drinking. Our Thinking about drinking is a website dedicated to educating those that are curious about the issue of the legal drinking age, alcohol and youth, alcohol and health, over consumption, and the marketing of alcohol. The authors begin by supplying the definition of the legal drinking age being, “the legal age for the purchase of alcohol, whether on-premise or off-premise.” The authors also supply some background and history about the issue by including a chart of countries with various drinking ages as well as showing how the United State’s stance has shifted throughout its history. The authors point out that in the ‘last month (of publication) that 25.1% of people 12 to 20 years old consumed alcohol.’ Of that 25.1%, “46.8% were 18 to 20” year olds. The authors then state “100 of the best-known U.S. universities called on lawmakers to consider a national debate about the possible benefits of lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, suggesting that current laws may actually encourage binge drinking on campuses.” Upon reading about this debate I knew that this research would benefit my own research about the drinking age as I have a similar opinion. In other words I support the stance about possibly lowering the drinking age, however there are some things in relation to that unaddressed. Is it just to be lowered or should there be required education? Also what about those 18 year olds that are still in High School?

Robertson, Bruce. “Drinking Age or Age of Responsibility.” Hospitality. Oklahoma State University. 1st May 2009. 20th Oct. 2014.

The article “Drinking Age or Age of Responsibility” is a short article in the magazine Hospitality targeting those that car about the drinking age and that can make an impact on policy in New Zealand. Robertson begins by stating that there is legislation before Parliament that is requiring a review of the Sale of Liquor Act and that there is no drinking age only an age of purchase in New Zealand. Robertson argues that Parliament should begin to look at enforcing an age of responsibility. “An age where young people are expected to step up and take responsibility for their own actions and become entitled to the privileges of adulthood.” Robertson lists these privileges as not only the consumption of alcohol but also as ‘voting, driving a motor vehicle, placing a bet, engaging in sexual activities, and going to war.’ Robertson believes that simply addressing the age of purchase only addresses the symptom rather than the cause, which is the drinking age. As we do not have differing ages for the consumption and purchase of alcohol in the United States I found Robertson’s argument to be interesting. While the age of purchase in New Zealand was 18 versus our 21, if we had a similar scenario it would create an interesting situation for colleges. Everyone would be able to drink just not purchase the alcohol. So that leads me to ask the question. Would that be a better situation compared to what we have now, half of a campus being able to drink and the other half not? Robertson also included drinking and going to war as adulthood responsibilities, which is a popular debate in the U.S.

Pritchard, Colin, Andrew Cotton, Malcolm Cox. “Under-age Drinking and Illegal Drug Use: Implications for a Progressive Social and Health Policy.” Journal of Wine Research. Oklahoma State University. 1st June 1993. 20th Oct. 2014

“Under-age Drinking and Illegal Drug Use: Implications for a Progressive Social and Health Policy” is an article about under-age drinking in the United Kingdom and how it impacts a youth’s perspective and awareness of alcohol as well as drug use and AIDS. The intended audiences are those that are concerned about under-age drinking and professionals in the field that can affect policy. Pritchard along with his fellow authors, conducted research on a “sample of 926 14 to 16 year old students, and the results showed that 38% of those 926 students were under-age drinkers.” Pritchard also claims that there is an association with under-age drinking and the use of soft and hardcore drugs. Of those 38% of students, Pritchard’s research shows that the rate of soft core drugs, mainly cannabis, is three times higher than that of non-drinkers and that 5% reported the use of hardcore drugs. Pritchard’s main findings were that “adolescents who were under-aged drinkers were more often associated with a range of negative social characteristics and with parents who smoked. That the drinker group was involved more frequently with a constellation of other problematic behaviours, which were mainly group activities and that there was a clear association found between under-aged drinking and greater frequency of drug and solvent experimentation. While I may not completely agree with all of Pritchard’s arguments there is quite a lot of validity to them. It also provides me with a source that opposes the others that I have come across thus far.

“College Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2013. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf. 20th Oct. 2014

“College Drinking” is an informative research article from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that discusses the consequences of abusive college drinking, the factors affecting student drinking, and how college drinking is being addressed. The intended audience could include concerned parents of incoming freshman, campus faculty and police, as well as those concerned with related policy. The author begins by explaining that drinking “has become a ritual” for college students, and that “more than 80 percent of students drink alcohol.” The author goes on to list the consequences such as the estimated 1,825 deaths, 599,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults, etc. The author then goes on to say that ‘binge-drinking rates are higher in in college students than in their non-college peers.’ The author also notes that alcohol abuse is high in schools “with strong Greek systems and with prominent athletic programs.” The author then begins to discuss the ways schools have combated alcohol abuse. Listed are strategies targeting individual students, and strategies targeting the campus and surrounding community; for individuals there are personal assessments and instruction and for campus and surrounding community required education. As for the statistics in this article I found them very informative and useful, however when it came to addressing college drinking I found the article, or rather the research, to be lacking. In my personal experience the required alcohol education that schools may or may not have does not inform students about more than they already know. Individual evaluations are only conducted after an incident relating to alcohol has taken place, in which the student has most likely learned a valuable lesson.

“Underage Drinking.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Jan. 2006. 20th Oct. 2014

“Underage Drinking” is a summary article about research conducted in conjunction by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The article discusses why adolescents drink, the risks, and prevention with the intended audience of concerned citizens and those that can affect policy. The author begins by supplying statistics from the “2005 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of U.S. youth,” that showed that three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. The author then begins to discuss some factors that lead adolescents to drink. Some of these include expectancies, how pleasurable it could be, sensitivity and tolerance, young drinkers are able to consume more than adults, personality, and hereditary factors. The author focused heavily upon hereditary factors, discussing how ‘children of alcoholics or having alcoholics within one’s family are four to ten times as likely to become alcoholics themselves.’ The author also mentions the health risk such as an impact on memory skills, harm to one’s liver, and even possible growth stunts. Upon moving to solutions the author discusses raising the prices of alcohol, increasing the drinking age, enacting zero-tolerance laws, and stepping up the enforcement of laws. I found this article to be very informative and analytical. I do believe however that it focused very heavily upon heredity reasons as to why an adolescent may drink instead of giving each possible reason its due course. The solutions listed were also solutions that have already been enacted and yet we still see adolescents partaking in alcohol.

“Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. .

“Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain” is a summary article about research conducted in conjunction by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The article discusses both general and more serious consequences of long term and heavy consumption of alcohol, as well as possible solutions. The articles intended audience would be those that have a family member that is an alcoholic or a medical profession interested in the effects of alcohol. The author begins by listing general effects of alcohol on the brain: “difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and impaired memory.” Because of these effects the author claims that it is obvious that alcohol has an effect on the brain, however in a “person that drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety.” One of these deficits that the author discusses is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This is a disease split into two, the first being Wernicke’s encephalopathy that can include mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that more the eyes, and difficulty with muscle coordination. The more serious half is Korsakoff’s psychosis, which is characterized by persistent learning and memory problems. Unfortunately there is not a cure for either part of the disease, however there are treatments that can help with the symptoms. I found this article quite informative on the more serious consequences of drinking alcohol, and I believe that it will compliment my research very well.

Barnett, Nancy P. “The Minimum Drinking Age Debate.” DATA: The Brown University Digest Of Addiction Theory & Application 27.11 (2008): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“The Minimum Drinking Age Debate” is an article written by Nancy Barnett, PhD from Brown University. Her intended audience is anyone with an interest in the debate about the minimum drinking age: 18 to 20 year olds, college faculty, policy makers, etc. Barnett begins he argument by informing her reader that there has been “considerable media attention” given to the debate concerning the legal drinking age. She also shares that ‘the founder of Choose Responsibility, and the Amethyst Initiative lead initiated this debate and are supported by 130 college presidents and chancellors.’ Barnett admits that while there are many disagreements about the issue, both non-supporters and supporters agree about the dangerous rates of underage drinking. Barnett addresses the Amethyst Initiative’s claim that the legal drinking age should be 18 in order to be consistent with other legal rights and that the age of 21 is unrealistic because most young adults have already partaken in drinking. Barnett rebuts this by citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation statistic that raising the legal drinking age to 21 save approximately 25,000 lives in 1984. Barnett also claims that lowering the drinking age to 18 would progressively lower the age of “first drink and first intoxication.”
Barnett does not disagree that something needs to happen in order to curb the “rates of dangerous underage drinking,” however she does not agree with lowering the drinking age. I like this source simply because it opposes the stance that I have built through my research thus far. I do believe however that Barnett’s argument is biased and lacking vital information. She only uses one source in order to back up her point of view and leaves out the fact that Choose Responsibility wants to lower the drinking age with a required education course.

Heath, Dwight B. “The Minimum Drinking Age Debate Revisited.” DATA: The Brown University Digest Of Addiction Theory & Application 28.1 (2009): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“The Minimum Drinking Age Debate Revisited” is an article written by Dwight Heath, PhD from Brown University. His intended audience is anyone with an interest in the debate about the minimum drinking age: 18 to 20 year olds, college faculty, policy makers, etc. After having read Barnett’s original argument Heath felt the need to respond while noting that there are points that they do agree on. Heath begins by pointing out that during the two decades that the legal drinking age has been 21 that “no one seems to have been happy with the outcomes.” Heath then refutes Barnett’s evidence that the drinking age of 21 lowered the rate of traffic accidents by pointing out that many such studies are misleading because they “ignore the role of seatbelts, air-bags, and other safety features” that appeared at that time. Heath also claims that rather than needing to simply change our policies on the matter we should also look at changing out drinking culture. For example, “ the majority of people around the world who are introduced to alcohol at an early age and learn to drink appropriately continue to drink responsibly and rarely get drunk. Heath concludes by stating that all of these points should be brought into the debate as this “prohibition-by-age appears to have been no more productive than national prohibition.” While like Barnett’s argument I believe that Heath’s argument is biased as well, I do believe he brings up valid points. Throughout my travels abroad I have witnessed first hand how our country has a unique drinking culture versus other countries. Our young adults go out with the intent to get drunk rather than to socialize. This is just another important point to add into my argument.

Choose Responsibility. Unionstreet Media Interactive, Oklahoma State University. 20th Oct. 2014.

Choose Responsibility is a website and organization dedicated to reforming the drinking age. The organization’s intended audiences are 18-20 year olds, parents, college administrators, policy makers, etc. The issue that led Choose Responsibility to come up with their solution was the division of underage drinkers and of age drinkers on college campuses. Their solution is to create a “program similar to Driver’s Education.” This program would be taught by a certified alcohol educator with at least 40 hours of instruction with sporadic community involvement. There would be a final examination for licensing and the course would be unbiased for both drinkers and abstainers. Choose Responsibility’s hope is that the drinking license would be incorporated into each states’ driver’s license in order to prevent fraudulence and would only be valid within the state of residence. The licensee would also forfeit the license upon violation of any state alcohol laws. Choose Responsibility also discusses the major roadblock for this idea. There is federal legislation that takes 10 percent of a state’s federal highway appropriation, which can amount to tens of millions of dollars. When I came across this organization I was ecstatic. My freshman year in Composition 1 I wrote a research paper over this topic arguing for this same course of action. Little did I know that there was an organization out there that was dedicated to making it happen. It will be interesting to research further into this idea and to see if there has been any recent legislation drafted in order to further it. This source will most definitely be an important part of my research paper.

Toomey, Traci L., et al. “Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport Stadiums.” Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 32.11 (2008): 1859-1864. Hospitality & Tourism Index. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

“Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport Stadiums” is a research report by Traci Toomey and company that analyzes whether or not there are illegal sales of alcohol in professional sports stadiums. Toomey’s intended audience would be those that are concerned with the illegal sale of alcohol. Toomey begins the report by explaining the reason as to why the research was conducted. While there have ‘been many studies about the illegal sales of alcohol in alcohol establishments and community festivals, there had yet to be any studies on professional sports stadiums.’ Toomey’s research included sales to under-age as well as intoxicated patrons. Toomey claims that the “overall sales rates to the pseudo-underage and pseudo-intoxicated buyers were 18% and 74%, respectively. She goes on to not that the sales to both parties is 2.9 percent as likely in the stands versus the concessions. Toomey then states that from these observations intoxicated patrons are much more likely to be served than underage patrons. In fact, “individuals who appeared to be obviously intoxicated were able to buy alcohol in nearly 3 of every 4 attempts.” Upon coming across this article I did not initially think that it necessarily would contribute to my research about the drinking age. However, I went ahead and read through it and an idea struck me. If my argument involves alcohol education, why not include mandatory education for industry workers that handle the sale of alcohol. Some states require it while others do not; Oklahoma for example does not, it is optional. Having just undergone the Responsible Alcohol Service training I cannot believe that it is not a requirement, I certainly learned some things that I should have known a long time ago.

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