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Lowering the Drinking Age to Eighteen

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In 1984 Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole lobbied for all states to raise the legal drinking age from eighteen to twenty-one. The consequence for a state not raising the age was to lose a portion of their federal highway funding. I personally believe that the drinking age being twenty-one is just like when the voting age was twenty-one, if I can go to war and die for my country, then I should be able to go to the bar and buy a beer.

One of the biggest problems in our society is under age drinking. They tell us how we aren't allowed to drink, that we aren't old enough or mature enough to do it, but the more adults talk about it, the more teenagers want to do it. When a kid goes off to college, it's expected that he is going to drink. Since most kids don't know what a hangover feels like, or what it's like to get the spins, they don't know their limits and when they need to stop. That is when you get people doing stupid things because they don't know any better. The most important thing for a young drinker to know is his or her limit. Any eighteen year old can drink responsibly if they have a little bit of experience. Unfortunately most parents don't want their kids to drink, so we have to learn the hard way without anyone there to tell us to slow down or to stop. For some kids that means getting sick one night and realizing that they shouldn't drink that much next time, but for some others the idea just never hits them, and they drink too much and that is when the trouble starts. Last Saturday night a friend of mine drank too much while she was out camping. She started to pass out and was puking all over herself. The more experienced kids in the group realized that she was in trouble and they rushed her back to campus where we were able to get her cleaned off and taken care of for the night.

Many people argue that when the drinking age was raised to twenty-one, that alcohol related deaths among people under twenty-one dropped from 43% to 21%. What they don't tell you is that alcohol related deaths among people between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five went up almost as much as the other group went down. Experience is the biggest tool in fighting the problems with underage drinking. The kid who goes to college without ever having gotten drunk is going to go all out at his or her first party. They are going drink way too much because they just don't know. They all have heard the stories of older siblings about how they drank this many beers one night and that many beers another night, and so they strive to be like them, to compete with their peers for bragging rights. What they don't understand is that it takes a long time to get used to dealing with the after effects of a fifteen beer night. So they go out their first night, grab a cup, and start to drink. Sounds like fun until they try to walk home and they can't remember where their dorm is. So they stumble around for a while, sometimes alone and other times with a group of friends. This goes on for a while until something finally happens.

One outcome, the one that all kids think is going to happen, is that they finally find their limit and learn how to be responsible with their drinking while having fun at the same time. Another option is that they end up in jail for the night and then they have to go explain to mommy and daddy why they need an extra $200 this month. The next possible outcome is the one that no kid ever thinks will happen to them, that is when they end up in the hospital getting their stomach pumped because they drank too much. For most kids that is enough to make them never drink that much again, but some kids see it as a challenge, and the next time they go to the hospital it is because someone found them dead on the floor the next morning.

My friends and I started to really drink the summer before my senior year. Personally I tried never to drink too much because I was always afraid of my parents, and I always had to drive home no matter what. So while my friends were getting completely trashed because they knew they could just sleep at the house we were drinking at, I was finding my limit. If I drank too much and I couldn't drive, then I would walk home and make myself wake up really early the next morning to



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