For years now, I have been trying to understand the justification behind preventing American adults who can legally support themselves, make decisions about their own lives and even serve the country, from drinking. And today I finally feel as though I can say it—after all the hours of research projects, presentations on the subject, interviews, getting my bartending/TIPS license and turning 21, my opinion has not changed. While I understand the other side better than ever before, I stand by my decision: No matter whether you are 18, 19 or 20, you should have every right to drink as someone who’s 21.
Yes, it’s not good for you. Yes, it’s dangerous. But making it an illegal, forbidden fruit only drives young adults to find ways to consume more and more recklessly. And while this may not be true of every under-ager, step onto any college campus today and it’s clearly the vast majority.
What I believe in today is putting a system in place that provides young adults the option. Very much like getting a driver’s license, a huge responsibility in its own right, they would need to study the affects of alcohol and safe drinking practices before passing a test in order to get their license. Like a probationary license, if they were caught violating its terms (i.e. over-drinking, drinking while driving, providing for minors) it would be suspended for a time period, depending on the severity of the crime. Obviously if they were caught doing either of the last two in that list, for instance, they would be barred from reapplying for one.
Having a system in place like this though would be a huge step forward toward building a culture of fairness and awareness; one where abusing alcohol every time someone drinks is no longer the norm or expectation. I truly think it would be the best way to give 18-year-olds their rights while still demanding a high level of respect for the substance. Because when you look at the statistics that compare things like our drinking and driving rates to those in other countries with far lower drinking ages, the answer is clear: It’s not the drinker’s age causing the problem, but merely their choice to abuse it.
Anyway, that’s all for now. Agree, or disagree, I don’t really care. This is something I just think needs to change and if you feel the same, I’d love to hear from you.