Raising the Legal Drinking Age Creates More Efficient People
Alcohol is a dangerous substance that continuously flies under society’s radar. When compared to other substances like drugs or vaping, alcohol rarely gets discussed in terms of the irreversible damage that it can have 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 with this and express that raising the legal limit by only a few years would do nothing in terms of helping brain functionality. The argument presented here is that since the brain finishes developing at twenty-five, why is the legal drinking age set at 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 such as how much alcohol is consumed, and how often said alcohol is consumed. No matter what the answers are to the previously mentioned factors, those under twenty-five who consume alcohol will cause quite a bit of damage to their prefrontal cortex because this section of the brain is not yet developed. The website Alcorehab further supports this notion by explaining that the effects of alcohol “cause this region to shrink and reduce in mass while lowering the number of neurons within the prefrontal cortex.” All in all, research has shown that even drinking occasionally before the brain has time to fully develop can cause irreversible damage to an area that is involved in a lot of the overall functionality of the brain.
Even those who rarely consume alcohol can cause a considerable amount of damage to their brain. On the website Alcorehab, they explain the most common short-term effect that alcohol has on the brain: blackouts. Now, there are two types of blackouts that drinkers can experience, partial and complete. Simply put, partial blackouts come from small intakes of alcohol and include forgetting basic information like someone’s name or where they may be at that time. On the other hand, complete blackouts cause an impairment of someone’s memory that makes said person forget everything that had taken place the previous night, and they usually need help from others to tell them what had occurred before. While these blackouts are short-term effects of alcohol use and are relatively innocent, the long-term effects on a person’s brain are irreversible, and unlike blackouts, these effects 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 irreversible damage and changes to the brain overall, especially to the prefrontal cortex as it is still developing. 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.” These issues relate more so to the prefrontal cortex because this section of the brain helps to regulate emotions, memory, and usually is related to the logical part of thinking, and based on the previous changes mentioned, the learning difficulties connect to the logical part, the unstable mood connects to the emotional part, and the disruption of memory of course connects to the memory portion of the prefrontal cortex. Now of course these issues occur over time with the use of alcohol, however they remain a serious threat to twenty-one year old’s as they drink when their brain is still coming into itself, and this may cause stunted development or parts just not developing to their absolute best as compared to if the law was changed to make them wait until everything had developed properly.
The brain is fragile and 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, they can still have devastating results later on. Blacking out time and time again, even if for short periods of time, can still cause memory damage later on down the line. 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 does not 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/