On June 28th, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the Minimum Drinking Age Act into law. This was a sad day for America – it marked the verge of a period where brave soldiers sacrificing their lives at war could not even legally enjoy a beer and where 20 year-old couples could not even have a sip of champagne at their own wedding. As if this was not enough, the saddest part in this mischief is that it made our problems even worse.
Prohibitionists are very naïve, if not imbecile, people. In the 1920s, they tried to prevent people from drinking alcoholic beverages. As a result, those who once were moderate and responsible drinkers began to drink great quantities of alcohol at a time, since their access to it was limited. So, we went from a society exhibiting ordinary, commonplace, and reasonable alcohol consumption to a society where people adopted irresponsible – if not dangerous – drinking patterns. The prohibitionists cannot deny that they made a mistake. It was corrected, too, by finally removing the law in 1933.
Now that all these people from the 1920s are dead and buried, other stupid people assembled to create a futile trend called the neo-prohibitionists. Only, this time, since general prohibition proved to be ineffective, they chose an easier target for their evil deeds: young adults. In 1984, the minimum drinking age for the entire United States was raised from 18 to 21 years of age. Since the final decision was in the power of the state legislatures, the brainless prohibitionists in the US Congress used nasty methods of negotiation: boycotting and threatening. All states were to adopt the federal law; otherwise, they would be deprived from substantial highway funds. Thus, their wish was granted (with few exceptions).
Evidently, prohibiting the use of alcohol for adults under the age of 21 had the same effect as general prohibition of the 1920s. Now, high school and college students are in some way forced to drink irresponsibly due to limited access. Since they are not allowed to enjoy one or two beers slowly while eating or watching television, they concentrate their alcohol consumption into binge drinking. Also, this discriminated prohibition has not solved the problem of drunk drivers. It is true that the number of deaths due to driving under influence of alcohol has been declining for adults under 21 since 1984. Only, now, it is the 21-24 age group that is most affected. Ironic, do you not think?
If minimum drinking ages were political regimes, the United States would be a nation of Nazis. We have the highest legal drinking age on the planet; many countries do not even require a minimal age. We also are one of the countries with the most problems due to alcohol. Our radicalism has led us to adopt a foolish philosophy about drinking. To illustrate this, let’s suppose that driver’s licenses were automatically given to American citizens at age 21. Prior to obtaining it, there would be no training, no testing, and no experimenting. The odds are that most people would be very dangerous and unskilled drivers. Well, that is exactly what we are doing with alcohol.
Having been raised in Quebec, Canada, I grew up in a very different drinking culture from that of the United States. There, legal drinking age is 18 years old, and, casually, people consider that minimum age as a “suggestion”. By suggestion, I mean that this is the age at which, normally, people start going out in bars and buying alcohol. Furthermore, in Quebec, children are raised in an environment where they are actually taught good drinking habits.
I have been drinking since I was 14, so I made all my mistakes and experimented all that I needed way before got my driver’s license. Thus, I matured into being a good and responsible drinker before being at risk of drinking and driving. In addition to that, my mother and all my friends’ parents were very open and constantly guided us into drinking responsibly. When I got here, one of the first things I noticed was the complete lack of responsibility that people have towards alcohol; even at 21 years of age. They remain immature in their drinking habits long after they obtain their driver’s licenses.
To conclude, I definitely think that the minimum age for drinking should not exceed 18 years of age. Most important, people in the United Sates must change their approach to alcohol. The parents should be able to educate their children early about drinking, and the children should experiment before they can drive. Furthermore, I think there should be classes about alcohol usage as early as in high school. After all, sex education and drug addiction classes are offered, so why not give knowledge about proper drinking habits? It is clearly time to treat young adults as adults. Fixing the minimum drinking age at 21 is like telling them that they are too immature to drink – doing so only encourages them to remain irresponsible.