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Cadence Giazzon

Professor Hughes
English 1102
April 19th 2016
Synthesis Essay
If one thing is clear, its that prohibition has never worked. Our nation has
attempted many times to take control of its drinking problem, but prohibition has
never been the answer. In fact, it seems to make things a lot worse than they would
be without these laws. Former president of Middlebury College in Vermont, John
McCardell, and author from Time Magazine, John Cloud are both in agreeance that
these laws are simply driving these illegal activities to underground events that
have no responsible supervision. McCardell states, It hasnt eliminated or reduced
drinking. It has simply driven it underground behind closed doors, into the most
risky and least manageable of locations. Like basements, fraternity houses, and
locked dorm rooms where kids go to hide from the law and from adults, including
parents, who might teach them some moderation (McCardell 2009). He further
goes on to say that the law has created such a dangerous culture of irresponsible
and reckless behavior, of unsupervised binge and extreme drinking. John Cloud has
a very similar viewpoint on this new culture. In his article published in Time
Magazine he states, This is because drinking by these youth is seen as an enticing
forbidden fruit, a badge of rebellion against authority and a symbol of
adulthood (Cloud 2008). Both sources argue that these laws are serving no good
for adolescents, and are making the drinking world that much more dangerous.
In order to prevent this reckless underground behavior, many suggest we
start by lowering the drinking age to 18 or 19. In doing so, we can allow for
appropriate behavior to be learned at an early age to build healthy, and responsible

drinking habits. A chief police from college town Boulder Colorado, states The
overall advantage is were not trying to enforce a law that unenforceable. The abuse
of alcohol and the over-consumption of alcohol and DUI driving. Those are the areas
weve gotta focus our efforts. Not on chasing kids around trying to give them a
ticket for having a beer in their hand (Beckner 2009). He has seen many cases in
which kids get themselves into sticky situations, where their friends need help due
to over-intoxication but they are too scared to contact authorities in fear of facing
charges. Beckner strongly believes that if the age were to be lowered these
situations would no longer be such a prevalent issue, and adolescents would be
more comfortable in seeking help. Strongly disagreeing with this viewpoint is health
professionals from Mayo Clinic. They state, Underage drinking can lead to alcoholrelated fatalities, sexual activity, school problems, alcoholism, and violent crime.
Research also shows that alcohol use at an early age might permanently distort a
teens mental development (Mayo Clinic Staff 2014). Their viewpoints strongly
disagree with those of Beckner, and oppose the lowering of the drinking age as
many of their studies show the damage it can cause to the brain while it is not fully
developed yet. Leading to multiple irresponsible behaviors, they believe kids are
simply not ready to be using these substances at this age.

Considering McCardells suggestion of shifting the venue for adolescents from fraternity
basements to bars, we face an even bigger problem. Bars main motive is to make as much money
as possible, so surely they will sell irresponsible teens as much alcohol as they would like. It is
very unclear as to how this will solve the issue at hand, and it seems more irresponsible to put
these teens in public venues in which they will need to find ways home at the end of the night.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, In fatal crashes in 2014, the

highest percentage of drunk drivers was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (US Department of
Transportation, 2015). These statistics would highly conflict with the ideas of reducing the
drinking age to 18, seeing that 21 year olds cannot even drink responsibly. Moving the location
of underage drinking could potentially help to set a more mature scene for adolescents to practice
responsible drinking, but at the end of the night it just isnt worth it seeing these numbers of
intoxicated drivers. Siding with the argument of keeping the drinking age at 21 is Dr. Wechsler of
Harvard University. He explains his studies, Among all college students in the sample, 3 of 10
(29.0%) drove after drinking any amount of alcohol, and 1 of 10 (10.8%) drove after consuming
5 drinks; about 1 of 4 students (23.2%) rode with a driver who was high or drunk (Wechsler
2003). As clearly supported by these statistics, college students and young adolescents are
highly irresponsible when making judgement decisions under the influence. Lowering the
drinking age does not necessarily mean these numbers will go down, it just means it will be
made more legal. Wechsler further explains that giving younger adolescents full access to these
substances will increase these numbers creating a bigger issue than what we have now.

Works Cited
Beckner, Mark. "Lowering The Drinking Age." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 03 May
Cloud, John. "Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered?" Time. Time Inc., 06 June 2008. Web. 03
May 2016.
Mayo Clinic Staff. "Tween and Teen Health." Underage Drinking: Talking to Your Teen about
Alcohol. Mayo Clinic, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 May 2016.
McCardell, John. The Debate On Lowering the Drinking Age. CBS News, 19 Feb. 2009. Web.
Wechsler, Henry. "Binge Drinking Rampant Among College Students." PsycEXTRA Dataset
(n.d.): n. pag. Harvard University, Feb. 2003. Web.