Are 18-year-olds mature enough to drink?

By Katy Granath Posted December 17, 2008

Having just celebrated my eighteenth birthday, I am enjoying my status as a legal adult. I no longer have to worry about Winnemucca’s curfew, I’ve received several calls from military recruiters, and I had the privilege of voting in the presidential election as well; I even temporarily considered moving out just because I could, but concluded a few minutes later that I enjoy the bed and the free food far too much to move out. However, going over my new rights as a legal adult, I realized that I still must wait to receive the full extent of my rights as an American citizen; for some reason, I will be denied the right to drink an alcoholic beverage for another three years.

Honestly, I have been unable to uncover a legitimate argument against 18-year-olds drinking alcohol that cannot be easily dismissed. Some have told me that they think it’s a health risk or a safety hazard to 18-year-olds or those around them. But come on, 18-year-olds are permitted to buy and smoke cigarettes, which is not only dangerous to one’s own health but endangers others as well. Smoking and the second-hand smoke it produces have been linked to such killers as cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. On the other hand, numerous studies have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation can actually benefit your health. In fact, the Mayo Clinic advises that a moderate alcohol intake of two drinks a day can reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

What safety hazards does drinking alcohol present specifically to my 18- year-old self who doesn’t equally apply to my 21-year-old brother? Yes, drinking a bottle of Russian vodka and then driving home, poses a significant health risk both to the drunk driver and others on the road, but is a drunk driver any less drunk on his 21st birthday than his 18th?

Drinking a piña colada doesn’t pose nearly the health risk signing up for the Army might. It’s an honor to have the right to fight and die for our country; it’s a heavy responsibility to be able to influence the future of the world by voting; but for some reason, 18-year olds aren’t equipped with the ability to drink safely or responsibly. If I’m mature enough to be handed an automatic weapon and shipped off to a foreign country to kill the enemies of America, how can I not be mature or responsible enough to drink?

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