With the incoming class of freshmen being exposed to the college experience, it’s not uncommon to hear students talk about lowering the drinking age. The proposal to lower the drinking age was almost put on the ballot in California and is a hot topic everywhere else in the States. Alcohol culture is one that has a constant presence on college campuses; unfortunately, it has severely negative effects on how well students perform in their studies. Many college students are currently for lowering the drinking age solely for social benefits, but the question is, is there a bigger issue at hand?
Underage drinking in colleges across the nation is a substantial issue. Does “Hey, it’s Friday night, who’s bringing the beer?” sound familiar? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month. Drinking affects studying, which affects overall class performance. Even drinking responsibly you could still get a hangover the next day, which probably won’t help you get that B you need on your chemistry exam.
There has also been research that suggests drinking alcohol can alter your mental performance long-term instead of just the morning after, according to U.K nonprofit Drinkaware. This means that any test or studying in general you have to do will most likely not be your A game. Also, almost 38 percent of college students between the ages of 18-22 participate in binge drinking, according to the NIAAA Binge drinking is dangerous because of how much alcohol is consumed in such a short time.
Underage drinking will also damage brain cells in people whose brains have not fully formed more than in mature brains, according to the NIAAA. This damage in premature brains is particularly the case with binge drinking, which includes a lot of alcohol in a small amount of time. The alcohol that is not filtered by the liver spreads to the rest of the body, including the brain.
The parts of the brain that control memory, speech, movement and judgment are the most commonly affected, according to NIHSeniorHealth. These areas are damaged even more in people under the age of 25. Underage drinking can lead to permanent changes in students brains. Until the mind matures, at about age 25, it is still growing. Alcohol can permanently corrupt a person’s frontal lobe, which is in charge of problem-solving and reasoning as well as judgment and impulse control.
Another important issue is drunk driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, every two minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. If students are driving back from parties and not driving sober, there is a high chance that they or someone else will get injured.
All in all, drinking hinders students from being successful in their studies. It can change how well a person’s brain functions, as well as cause physical and emotional harm to those involved. It affects your memory, which is an important tool when it comes to remembering all those anatomy vocabulary terms. Lowering the drinking age would enable more of these adverse consequences and distract students from their full-time job: their studies. Hopefully in the future, students will put down the bottle and pick up the books.
Emily Fox studies neuroscience. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush