How America’s Drinking Problem Is Affecting College Campuses, And How to Solve It
Lower the drinking age to 18 to lower binging and sexual assault rates.
By Celia Freed in Lifestyle on
July 14, 2015
Before you roll your eyes and say that I’m just a teen that wants to drink a little sooner, let’s look at a few important facts. The USA has the highest legal drinking age but also the highest binge rate, while countries with younger legal drinking ages have significantly lower binge rates. When Americans drink, they drink to binge; 50 percent of an American adult’s alcohol is consumed during a binge session, and it’s an appalling 90 percent for someone underage. This isn’t infrequently either, as young adults, ages 18-24, binge drink an average of four times per month and consume over nine drinks each sitting. Not only does binge drinking pose direct health threats, but intoxication leads to higher sexual assault rates.
By having the drinking age at 21, drinking has become an issue because it has been forced into the very dangerous place of illegality for college undergraduates. Here, in the deep depths of “don’t talk about it and don’t get caught,” we have resorted back to the days of the prohibition era (where drinking rates soared higher than they had been before). Alcohol has become so elusive that teenagers and young adults drink and get drunk, instead of drinking as a cultural practice–as it is in those countries where the age is lower.
The awkward subgroup of adults that are between 18-20 years old, can’t go to a restaurant with their parents and order a drink because, heaven forbid, they enjoy the taste of that drink. If they want alcohol, they can only have it, surreptitiously and evasively, at parties where people are more likely to be binging, sitting around a keg, or doing shots. This is extremely harmful for that age group because it is comprised of college-age students who were never able to be taught about alcohol. The first time they are exposed to alcohol is with other young adults at, most likely, an unsupervised event. These unsupervised parties endanger people’s well-being, because the students don’t know their limits and act under impaired judgement. This leads to more cases of sexual assault, and a greater likelihood of acting rashly and violently. These parties happen in the USA and underage drinking laws don’t prevent them. Lowering the drinking age would allow for these parties to not be secret, but rather to be more supervised and controlled, and could save people from being raped or abused.
If that awkward subgroup of adults, the 18-20-year-olds, were taught how to drink under supervision at the house (for most people turn 18 while still in high school), binge drinking wouldn’t be the issue it is now. It wouldn’t be illegal, so the desire to be rebellious would be curbed. Let us learn from the examples of other countries, where the drinking age is lower, and less binging occurs. The need for it to be in secret, and therefore unmonitored, would be over. Instead of sending mixed signals to 18-year-olds that they are incapable of controlling what they drink but yet can determine their futures, let them prove that we are not as “reckless” and “stupid” as some believe.