Underaged Drinking in America:
Why the Legal Drinking Age Should Stay at Twenty-one.
Alcohol is a depressant that affects your vision, coordination, reaction time, multitasking ability, judgment, and decision-making (Short and Long Term). Seventy-five percent of adults in America drink alcohol (Health). Because of the large impact that alcohol consumption has had on America, it has become a hot topic of debate. Specifically, on whether lowering the age at which a person can legally drink would decrease the amount of alcohol abuse by minors. To properly address the issue of underaged drinking in America, the legal drinking age should stay at twenty-one. If lowered, the amount of alcohol being consumed by persons under twenty-one would increase, causing a rise in alcohol related accidents and death. Origins of Alcohol
Ethanol, the alcohol we consume, is made by fermenting and distilling fruits and grains. Alcohol fermentation is a natural process which occurs when yeast converts carbohydrates, such as starch or sugar, into alcohol. An example would be wheat used to create beer, or grapes to produce wine. Most plant matter can be used to produce alcohol. When an alcoholic beverage is consumed, 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and 80 percent in the small intestine (Freudenrich). The speed of absorption depends upon the concentration of alcohol in the beverage, gender, weight, and whether your stomach is full or empty; food slows down the absorption of alcohol. Men generally have more muscle mass and less fat then women, so one drink will not affect a man as it would a woman. A person doesn’t start feeling the effects of alcohol until it is carried through the bloodstream, to the
body’s tissues. This process takes about twenty minutes, depending on the amount originally consumed. Once absorbed by the bloodstream, five percent of the alcohol is expelled through the kidneys as urine, five percent through exhalation of the lungs, and the rest is broken down into acetic acid by the liver (Freudenrich). A person becomes “drunk” when an excess of alcohol is consumed and cannot be absorbed by the liver.
Throughout history, alcohol has provided a large variety of uses for the human race. No one knows exactly when alcohol was first used, but intentionally fermented drinks existed as early as 10,000 B.C. (Patrick, 12-13). In ancient Egypt, brewing dates back to the beginning of civilization, where alcohol played an important roll in worship of the gods (Cherrington, vol. 1, 404). Alcoholic beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, medicine and ritual. In China, alcohol was considered a spiritual food, playing an important role in religious life (Hucker, 28). "In ancient times people always drank when holding a memorial ceremony, offering sacrifices to gods or their ancestors, pledging resolution before going into battle, celebrating victory, before feuding and official executions, for taking an oath of allegiance, while attending the ceremonies of birth, marriage, reunions, departures, death, and festival banquets" (Fei-Peng, 13).
Greeks were the most restrained when it came to alcohol consumption in ancient history. This had to do with their rules stressing moderate drinking, diluting wine with water, and avoiding excess (Austin, 11). However, intoxication at gatherings and festivals was not uncommon. By 1,700 B.C., wine making was commonplace, and during the next thousand years wine drinking assumed the same function so commonly found around the world: It was incorporated into religious rituals, it became important in hospitality, it was used for medicinal
purposes and it became an integral part of daily meals (Babor, 1986, pp. 2-3). Greek philosopher, Plato, thought wine, in moderation, was beneficial to one’s health and happiness. With all of these ancient countries prospering, and consuming alcohol for the better, it is difficult to believe that alcohol consumption laws are being abused every day...
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