Consuming alcohol while the brain is still developing can also increase the risk of alcohol dependence. A 2011 study of 600 Finnish twins by researchers at Indiana University found that people who drank regularly as teenagers were more likely to develop alcohol dependence later in life. The study asked twins about their drinking habits at age 18 and again at age 25. The study of the twins is particularly noteworthy because the twins had the same environmental and genetic background, factors that could influence their alcohol behavior. In the years following the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, alcohol consumption fell by 19 per cent among 18- to 20-year-olds and by 14 per cent among 21- to 25-year-olds. This was particularly interesting because research has shown that most minors report that alcohol is «fairly easy» or «very easy» to obtain. When it comes to alcohol, even small behavioral checks seem important, Glasner-Edwards says. «If it takes more effort, it saves the person some time to think about how important it is for them to drink at that time or to consider the possible negative consequences of alcohol consumption,» she explains. «It seems that these barriers are significant for young people to benefit from these minimum age laws.» Raising the minimum drinking age has led to a decline in overall alcohol consumption among all young adults, even when alcohol is easily accessible. But the legal drinking age has not been set for medical reasons. That`s because of several health risks associated with it, as outlined in the Surgeon General`s 2oo7 call to action, Caster notes.
These include being one of the leading contributors to injury deaths (which is the leading cause of death in people under 21), causing dangerous health problems such as alcohol poisoning, effects on the developing brain, and others. However, when the legal drinking age dropped nationwide in the `70s, alarm bells began ringing, notes licensed clinical psychologist Suzette Glasner-Edwards, PhD, associate professor at UCLA`s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. «Research conducted after this period strongly suggested that an increase in road accidents among young people was associated with this change in the legal drinking age,» she tells Teen Vogue. «As a result, citizen efforts have begun to push states to reinstate 21 as the legal minimum age.» For the most part, July 17 is a pretty anticlimactic day. (Unless you claim this date as your birthday, in which case, woo! Confetti keywords and banners.) Without knowing it, however, something happened in 1984 that affects many of us: the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, which set the legal drinking age at 21. University presidents who have supported the Amethyst Initiative — a movement launched in 2008 to rethink the national drinking age of 21 — admit that drunk driving is a serious problem, but they stress that it`s not the only potential pitfall for young drinkers. They argue that by lowering the drinking age, colleges would be able to bring alcohol outside and educate students about responsible drinking. Such education could help reduce alcohol poisoning, drunk injuries, alcohol-related violence and alcoholism on campus. Despite these improvements, too many teenagers still drink. In 2012, 42% of Grade 12 students, 28% of Grade 10 students, and 11% of Grade 8 students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. In the same year, approximately 24% of Grade 12 students, 16% of Grade 10 students, and 5% of Grade 8 students reported excessive drinking in the past two weeks. Teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.
References Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 National and state costs of excessive alcohol consumption. Am J Prev Med 2015; 49(5):E73 to E79. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have begun advocating for a uniform national drinking age of 21 to eliminate these blood thresholds and keep alcohol out of reach of supposedly less mature 18-year-olds. As a result, President Reagan signed the aforementioned 1984 National Minimum Age Age. «Why 21 years» of MADD? The website announces that «more than 25,000 lives have been saved in the United States thanks to the legal drinking age of 21.» Traffic reports show a 61% decrease in alcohol-related deaths among drivers under 21 between 1982 and 1998. The raw numbers show that the number of drunk driving deaths has declined markedly since the early 1980s. Since 1982, drunk driving fatalities have decreased by 51%. Among drivers under 21, drunk driving deaths dropped by 80 percent. In short, we ended up with a national minimum age of 21 due to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984. This law essentially told states that they had to set a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose up to 10 percent of their federal funding for roads.
Since this is a serious piece, states have become similar quite quickly. Interestingly, this law does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol per se; It only persuades states to prohibit the purchase and public ownership of persons under the age of 21. Exceptions include possession (and presumably consumption) of alcohol) for religious purposes, in the company of parents, spouses or guardians over the age of 21, for medical purposes, and in the course of lawful employment. History says no. When U.S. states had a lower legal drinking age, the drinking problem was worse for minors.3 For example, before the legal drinking age of 21 was introduced by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in more than twice as many fatal motor vehicle accidents as they are today.3 References 3. Has fallen, James. Excerpted from «Chapter 2: Federalism: Resolute, the Federal Government Should Restore the Freedom of Each State to Set Its Drinking Age.» in Ellis, Richard and Nelson, Michael (eds.) Debating Reform. CQPress Publishers, Fall 2009. Why is the U.S. at the age of 21? And how did we get here? In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox`s Phil Edwards explores the story of how the drinking age reached 21. Prior to 1984, some states had set the legal drinking age at 18, 19 or 20.
While this age may seem a bit random (maybe even arbitrary), since you`re a legal adult at 18, Congress didn`t just choose the number of a hat. There is a long and rich history about alcohol in America and why the legal drinking age is set at 21. This answers the legal question of why the drinking age is 21, but what was the underlying logic of the original policy? Did lawmakers simply pick 21 out of a hat because they wanted seniors to learn the nuances of bar culture before graduation? Almost. The concept of a person reaching the age of 21 dates back centuries in English common law; 21 was the age at which a person could, among other things, vote and become a knight. Given that a person was an official adult at the age of 21, it seemed reasonable that he could drink even then. The drinking age has been raised to 21 due to federal funding for highways. In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, stipulating that federal highway money would be withheld by U.S. states that had not set the legal drinking age at 21. By 1988, all states had introduced the minimum age. Late 1960s and 1970s: lowering of the drinking age.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, nearly all states lowered the drinking age to 18. This led to a dramatic increase in alcohol-related car accidents, and drunk driving was considered a public health crisis. In the mid-1970s, 60 percent of all road deaths were alcohol-related, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). More than two-thirds of car accidents involving people aged 16 to 20 were alcohol-related. After prohibition, many states set a legal drinking age of 21. But that began to change after the voting age was lowered to 18. Many states have followed suit by lowering their drinking age, which has changed the landscape for the entire country. U.S. alcohol laws regarding the minimum age of purchase have changed over time.
In colonial America, there was usually no drinking age, and alcohol consumption among young teenagers was common, even in taverns.  In post-revolutionary America, this laxity gradually changed due to religious sentiments (embodied in the temperance movement) and a growing recognition of the dangers of alcohol in the medical community.  Recent history is given in the table below. Unless otherwise stated, if there are different minimum ages of purchase for different categories of alcohol, the age listed below will be set at the lowest age indicated (for example, if the age of purchase is 18 for beer and 21 for wine or spirits, as has been the case in several states, the age in the table will be read as «18» rather than «21»). In addition, the age of purchase is not necessarily the same as the minimum age to consume alcoholic beverages, although they are often the same. Since then, arguments against the age of alcohol consumption have persisted. Some argue that the illegality of alcohol gives it a «taboo appeal» and actually increases rates of underage drinking. Others argue that if you can fight in war, you should be able to drink. Students hate the age of alcohol consumption, not that they keep it.
About four out of five students drink alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And more than 90% of this alcohol is consumed by excessive alcohol consumption. The CDC still calls underage drinking «a public health concern.» As can be seen in the table below, since the repeal of prohibition in 1933, there has been great volatility in the age of alcohol consumption in the states.