Raising The Legal Drinking Age Creates More Efficient People
Alcohol is a dangerous substance that flies under society’s radar. Compared to other abuses such as drugs or vaping/smoking, alcohol is rarely discussed in terms of its irreversible impacts on the human brain. The brain and its functionality are a key factor to a person living up to their full potential and becoming a useful member to the society around them, however when alcohol comes into the mix at an age where the brain is not yet fully developed, this hinders a person’s ability to be at their absolute best. Some may disagree and express that raising the legal age by a few years would do nothing in terms of functionality. The argument presented here is that since the brain finishes developing at twenty-five, why is the legal drinking age twenty-one?
We can start this discussion off by looking deeper into alcohol and its effects on the brain. The brain in general is a delicate part of the body and is quite vulnerable to injury, but when it comes to alcohol consumption, the level of damage that the brain may take varies person to person depending on a multitude of factors that could be at play. Specifically, the prefrontal cortex would take a sizable hit no matter the person because of the sole fact that at twenty-one this portion of the brain is not done developing. The website Alcorehab explains that, “Effects of alcoholism cause this region to shrink and reduce in mass while lowering the number of neurons within the prefrontal cortex.” In turn, this causes a drastic change when it comes to personality and emotions, which can easily be seen in how a drunk person acts and how they present themselves when under the influence. Now, this is an extreme case as it relates to those who abuse alcohol on a daily basis, but even just consuming alcohol every once in a while can have lasting impacts on the brain.
Occasional drinkers share a common effect from the use of alcohol: blackouts. On the website Alcorehab, they list two types of blackouts: partial and complete. Partial blackouts are simple, they come from small intakes of alcohol, and it usually means forgetting names or other basic pieces of information. On the other hand, complete blackouts are an impairment of the memory that makes the person forget everything that happened the previous night, and they usually need someone else to tell them what had taken place. These blackouts are short-term effects when it comes to alcohol use and they are relatively innocent, however the long-term effects on a person’s brain are irreversible, and unlike those blackouts, these are not temporary.
The long-term effects of consuming alcohol can be terrifying as excessive consumption can severely damage the brain. On the website Addiction Resource, the author discusses the topic of brain shrinkage and like previously mentioned, any sort of loss in terms of mass can lead to drastic changes. These drastic changes can include but are not limited to: “learning difficulties, memory disruption, unstable mood, unstable sleep patterns, unusual fluctuations in body temperature, and a declining ability to control muscle movement.” Now, these issues occur over time and are due to the use of alcohol over the course of years and years, however they still remain a huge threat in terms of the brain and how that affects a person overall.
The brain is fragile and is the core of a person, controlling things ranging from emotions to movements to everything in between, and even if someone experiences those short-term effects rather than the long-term, those still can have devastating impacts later on. Blacking out time and time again, even if for a short period of time, can still cause memory damage later on. All in all, regardless of whether someone is affected by the short-term or long-term effects that come with alcohol use, it still messes with the overall functionality and doesn’t allow their brain to achieve maximum efficiency.
Manarang-Obsioma, Marixie Ann. “Long- and Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on Brain: Damage Symptoms.” AlcoRehab.org, AlcoRehab, 7 Aug. 2019, https://alcorehab.org/the-effects-of-alcohol/brain/
“Long and Short-Term Effects of Alcoholism on the Brain.” Addiction Resource, 9 Mar. 2018, https://addictionresource.com/alcohol/effects/brain/
Keck, Rachel. “How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? (It’s Not Pretty).” Dr. Axe, 21 Feb. 2019, https://draxe.com/health/how-does-alcohol-affect-the-brain/