August 11, 2023 opinion

To solve US alcoholism youth should be drinking sooner. Here’s why

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Noah Saphier in Oxford, United Kingdom

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A healthy intake of alcohol should be normalized in the US instead of a hard age barrier of 21 which creates an urge for those underage to try.

University is for drinking and partying – this is what many people in the US believe as one in five college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

Because US society has built up such a taboo about drinking at a young age, it gives many young people the natural incentive to try alcohol at any rare given chance.

Personally, after trying non-alcoholic beer, I do not feel any incentive to try real alcohol, but as an American student applying to universities in the upcoming years, this large drinking culture poses a threat to myself and my peers.

Drinking culture is shown to contribute heavily to some alarming statistics. Every year almost 700,000 college students, aged between 18 and 24, become victims of assault at the hands of another student under the influence of alcohol. Research also indicates that at least 20% of women are sexually assaulted during university, with the majority of these assaults involving someone drinking or taking drugs.

Alcohol problems within the US are not recent, with history further supporting that alcohol prohibition is ineffective and causes people to rebel illegally.

A black market arose after the consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages were prohibited in 1920. Completely prohibiting alcohol until the age of 21 has created a space for younger university students to go to parties with alcoholic drinks.

I think that Italy should be considered an ideal drinking society; the legal drinking age is officially 18, but there is no legal minimum age for drinking alcohol at home.

So, rather than creating fear and desire for children, acceptance of some alcohol results in less alcoholism in later ages. In 2010, 70% of 15 year olds in Italy had experienced alcohol. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that only 1% of Italians over the age of 15 are addicted to alcohol.

In my opinion, this proves how exposure to alcohol at a younger age prevents many people from becoming addicted. This contrasts from the 11.3% of American adults (18 and older) with an alcohol use disorder, a 2021 report found.

I find many of the things an American can do before drinking alcohol to have a greater life effect, especially in terms of just consuming limited amounts of alcohol.

Some examples include voting (18), the age of consent (16-18), drivers permit (14-16), drivers license (16-18), joining the military (17 years and 9 months), buying a house and vehicle (18), and it is obligatory to join the Selective Service System (18). In addition, if 18 year olds are tried as adults in court, they should be treated as a full adult in other aspects as well, such as in drinking.

The US has lowered the drinking age before, but it only created more deaths. In 1969, the legal drinking age was lowered to 18 years old in line with the lowered voting age (from 21 to 18). It was only moved back up to 21 in 1976, after there was a rise in drunk driving deaths.

However, raising the age back to 21 does not seem to solve the problem, as 1,500 US college students aged 18-24 die annually from alcohol related injuries, including vehicles.

From completely banning alcohol to lowering the legal drinking age to 18, to raising it again to 21, nothing seems to solve US alcoholism.

I feel that creating any type of concrete barrier creates desire for youth, and when someone wonders what it is like to drink alcohol, it creates a natural incentive to want it more.

Allowing children over the age of 15 to have one glass of an alcoholic drink weekly, with guardian supervision, could teach them how to limit alcohol. New laws need to be put in place to loosen the regulations so that we can create a healthy relationship with alcohol.

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Noah Saphier

Contributor

New Jersey, United States of America

Born in 2007 in New Jersey, Noah Aaron Brühl Saphier studies in Englewood New Jersey, United States of America. He is interested in journalism, science, sports, and history. For Harbingers’ Magazine, he writes about sports, exploration, and global conflicts.

In his free time, Noah plays tennis and the violin, learns about exploration in the ocean and space, and travels. Noah speaks English, Spanish, and German.

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