Raising The Legal Drinking Age
In the world, there are people who come into power and have the ability to pass or change up certain laws pertaining to our society. In the United States, we have laws and regulations designed to keep us safe and are there to benefit society as a whole, but are these laws/regulations always right? Of course not, those in charge can be wrong, the society around us can be wrong, and one of these laws that is wrong right now is the drinking age being set at twenty-one. Now, those that are for the drinking age being twenty-one may bring up the fact that being twenty-one makes you responsible, and having the set age where it is now prevents any harm that may be caused if the age was lowered like some other countries out there. While these statements have good reasoning behind them, thinking about them realistically and with science in mind, these statements made by the opposing side are incorrect. The prefrontal cortex is the most important part of the brain as this section stores memory, experience, emotions, and other functions that are still being figured out to this day. With this part of the brain being so important to who we are as people, wouldn’t it be only natural to want to protect the development of such a core element when it comes to human beings?
The opposing side sees twenty-one as being a better fit because people at this age are, in society’s eyes, more mature. This is due to the fact that twenty-one-year-olds hold a job, they can drive and own their own car, they go to college, can serve in the military, and are even able to marry. While this may seem like a solid point, all of these things are able to be accomplished also by eighteen-year-olds, who are still at an age where they are immature for the most part and still trying to get a grasp on the real world. Why is it so special for a twenty-one-year-old to have all these things when an eighteen-year-old can obtain them just as easily? Being able to do these things alone does not make anyone mature in the slightest, rather what really makes someone mature is the ability to not act on desire alone or get things simply because they can, but to be able to think logically and create a plan to achieve the goals that they want in life. Basing maturity on the general age of twenty-one is irrational because once this age is reached that does not mean that the person automatically gains maturity as well, that comes with experience and with having those sections of the brain that regulate logic and planning fully developed. On the website Inverse, there is an article titled “3 Life-Changing Things That Happen To The Human Brain At 25,” and the author of said article mentions that “by quarter-life, most of us have figured out how to control our impulses, plan and prioritize well, and organize our lives in a way that gets us to our end goals.” This further supports the notion that twenty-one does not make someone mature, it is the experiences that happen with growing up and by the age of twenty-five, most people have come to a point where they have matured completely, brain-wise and personality-wise. Just like the author pointed out, twenty-five-year-olds, for the most part, have their life together and start acting on logic rather than impulse.
Additionally, the opposing side sees the drinking age at twenty-one as beneficial to the brain compared to places where the drinking age is lowered, usually at eighteen. Once again, while this does prevent harm for those under the legal age, what about the last four years that contribute to brain development? Is it acceptable to simply ignore four important years of development to the core of a human? Let’s compare the brain to a computer for a moment. Now, no one would expect a computer to fully function with some of its pieces missing, there would be an error somewhere along the way. The brain is the same way, it cannot function to the best of its ability if development is cut short by the interference of alcohol four years too early. To recap, drinking alcohol can impair one’s judgment, long and short term memory, and it makes impulse control virtually nonexistent. All these effects put a strain on your prefrontal cortex and can affect this part of your brain long term if alcohol is abused. As to why raising the drinking age to twenty-five is so important, it’s that it gives a person, while growing, the ability to have experiences and to have logical thinking implanted before alcohol is introduced.
When the brain is hindered while still growing and implementing those important pieces for an adult to have, this can cause irreversible changes to the way a person thinks and how they act. Once your brain is damaged and development stops, there is no way for the brain to repair any of this or for it to go back and finish developing, even if alcohol use stops before things can get worse. Having every part of the body mature is vital for human functionality, and since the brain develops in the back to front motion, the prefrontal cortex, one of the most important parts of the brain, is the last one to reach full development. This has been proven as fact by extensive research from doctors and scientists alike, and the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta is one of many places to come forth with findings that show that brain development does not stop until the mid-twenties. Even if society has dubbed twenty-one as the right age to be able to drink, this does not mean it shouldn’t or couldn’t be changed. Our society is ever changing and will never be the same when compared back to later years, even as week by week passes, new things happen and change seemingly by the minute. People also constantly change their viewpoints and reasoning just as much as the society built around us does. When it comes to the prefrontal cortex and brain development, however, these are set in stone facts that have been backed up by extensive research, not some opinion that can change later on down the line. Overall, the brain should be given as much time as needed in order to develop fully and ensure that an individual has everything set in order to go about their lives with maximum efficiency.
“Prefrontal Cortex.” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog, 4 Sept. 2019, www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/prefrontal-cortex.
“Long and Short-Term Effects of Alcoholism on the Brain.” Addiction Resource, 9 Mar. 2018, https://addictionresource.com/alcohol/effects/brain/
2011, Sep 23. “Human Brain Development Does Not Stop at Adolescence: Research.” News, 19 June 2019, www.news-medical.net/news/20110923/human-brain-development-does-not-stop-at-adolescence-research.aspx.
Cummins, Eleanor. “3 Things That Happen to the Human Brain at 25.” Inverse, Inverse, 6 July 2017, www.inverse.com/article/33753-brain-changes-health-25-quarter-life-crisis-neurology.