In most developed countries it is legal to buy alcoholic beverages at the age of 18. Only in Iceland, Japan, South Korea and the land of the free, the United States, the legal drinking age is over 18. Furthermore, the US has the highest legal drinking age with 21. European countries like Austria, Belgium and Germany seem to be more easygoing when it comes to drinking. You can purchase beer and wine at the age of 16 and liquor at the proper age of 18.
The real (honest) drinking age undercuts the legal drinking age by far. Excessive drinking could lead to death and could cause lot of mental and physical pain for the consumer and ones relatives. But why does drinking have to be excessive? Why can it not just be seen as a refreshment at the bar with some friends? The high legal drinking age in the US supports binge drinking since “forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.” If you can get a hand on alcohol as a minor, you want to go all out because it is something that you can’t buy yourself and therefore can’t consume as often. If you could just buy it at a lower age, it would not have that status. You would get used to it, you make your experiences and the hype is gone shortly after you can legally purchase the booze.
As my mother tells me “I want you to rather drink beer than energy drinks.” And yes, I would much more rather die from alcohol-toxic liver cirrhosis than by cancer caused by energy drinks or other chemical flooded drinks. Yes, you can mix alcohol and energy drinks or soda, but when I talk about alcohol I refer more to beer, wine and pure liquor.
It seems ridiculous to me that you can take responsibility to buy guns, get killed in combat or vote for your president, but you can’t even buy a damn beer. Drinking connects people and I want to articulate that I don’t mean excessive drinking, but more like a little lubrication for social interactions when you are at a bar.
I assume that the high drinking age increases the consumption of other substances such as cannabis. Alcohol and weed appear to have the same status in society, since smoking and drinking is both illegal. Countries with a really low drinking age (16-18) have a relatively low consumption of illegal drugs compared to U.S. standards. Make alcohol more affordable to keep people away from higher priced illegal substances.
Alcohol can be even healthy, if consumed in proper amounts. 10 grams of alcohol for women and 20 grams of alcohol for men per day is considered to be healthy, because it lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases. For your orientation: 0.5 liters of beer are 20 grams and 0.1 liters of wine equal 10 grams of alcohol. On the other hand, if you consume over 30 grams a day it leads to a higher blood pressure and it will start damaging your body.
In addition to lowering the drinking age, the US could also allow drinking in public. Drinking moderately in public parks while having a barbecue or at the beach really doesn’t hurt anyone. Nobody wants to puke and that is a natural boundary when you notice that you drank too much. Mistakes make you wiser and they give you a good lesson about responsible drinking. Nevertheless it might be in your interest to figure out this boundary without puking.
All-in-all I think it is time that the U.S. lowers the legal drinking age to at least 18 years, preferably 16 for beverages with lower alcohol levels. It will help binge drinking to decrease because it would be easier to get hands on. It will help college students to have decent parties without having to fear that the party could get crashed by cops and it would help lowering the consumption of illegal substances.