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American teens more likely to be alcoholics than legally drinking European teens
By Aaron Graf
The legal drinking age in the United States is the highest on the planet, with the exception of Saudi Arabia where alcohol is prohibited. At sixteen one can legally consent to sexual activities, be taxed for their labor, and serve prison sentences as an adult. At eighteen you can legally vote, though in Alabama you cannot smoke or sign for your own apartment until the age of nineteen. Oh yes-how on earth could I forget you could join the military? “Sorry son, I know you lost an arm in Iraq but I’m gonna have to confiscate your alcohol.” Youth alcohol addiction is a serious thing, but simply raising the drinking age does not stop the pandemic of alcohol abuse. The number of youths addicted to alcohol in the United States is higher than that of tobacco, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. Americans should seriously consider modeling their drinking laws after European nations in order to curb the rate of alcohol addiction.
In addition to legalizing marijuana and not having to deal with drug gangs, the Dutch also have very relaxed laws in regards to drinking. In the United States the drinking age is twenty-one, yet the legal driving age is only fifteen. In the Netherlands there is what I like to call a “baby step” program in regards to alcohol laws. Sixteen year olds find themselves allowed to drink beer and wine in the Netherlands, whereas hard liquor and marijuana are reserved until they are eighteen years old. If you’re sixteen and accompanied by an adult you can legally drink hard liquor in the Netherlands. I can’t think of a better way to make sure that little punk will be going to sleep. Driving is also not a privilege until you turn eighteen, there’s better mass transit, and better funding for highway patrol.
As far as the rates of alcohol and drug use among teens go, the United States has twice the level of adolescent alcoholics and drugs addicts as the Netherlands (not to mention over five times the heroin addicts). This strikes me as being rather odd, since the United States has the strictest drug and alcohol policies, and the Dutch have the most liberal ones. Why are Dutch teens who can drink legally less likely to become alcoholics than American teens who can’t drink legally? The obvious point to be made is that Dutch teens have no major pressure to get drunk every night. The simple fact is that the youth will get alcohol, especially if they pay a homeless guy to buy it for them. There’s also the fact that the legal age to consent to sex is sixteen, creating a few relationships where the man is clearly looking for sex and the girl is looking to get herself and her friends completely hammered.
The bottom line is that the legal drinking age should be lowered, and the driving age should be raised. Sure, some youths might become severe alcoholics when they’re sixteen, just like right now! Some might even overdose from alcohol in a legal environment to drink at sixteen, just like right now! The difference would be that the numbers would be a lot lower. I’m not sure how the homeless guy needing alcohol and money would think of the drinking age being lowered. This would make the burden on the police a lot lighter in regards to minors and alcohol-lighter in the sense they would only have to worry about minors who drink that cause others to suffer from their actions. Lowering the drinking age would significantly decrease the burden on the police force and allow them to deal with more pressing and urgent matters. But people wonder: what age is the best legal age? The best legal age to be allowed the privilege to drink should obviously be sixteen. If you can be tried in a court of law as an adult and be taxed for your labor, you should be legally allowed to drink with adults.