Alcoholism is a considerable issue in many parts of the world. It is the most severe form of alcohol abuse where a person cannot control their drinking habits. Alcoholism by definition, is a chronic and often progressive illness involving the excessive inappropriate ingestion of ethyl alcohol whether in the form of familiar alcoholic beverages or as a constituent of other substances. It is characterized by an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol and comes from a combination of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors. It is a dangerous disease that leads to brain damage or early death. In fact, Alcohol use was responsible for 3.2 percent of deaths worldwide each year. Of an estimated 1.8 million alcohol-related deaths around the globe, about a third were unintentional injuries (“Alcoholism”).
Alcohol not only affects the individual drinker but people around them and society as a whole. Alcoholism has large financial and healthcare costs to society as a whole. An article online at Alcoholstatistics.com, states that alcohol abuse costs the US healthcare system more than $25 billion annually (Alcohol Statistics). Alcohol consumption is a risk factor in 25 chronic diseases and conditions and plays a significant role in cardiovascular diseases and cancers, as well as digestive diseases. Additionally, alcohol consumption can increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cost of excessive alcohol use in the U.S. alone exceeds $200 billion annually. Buddy from www.verywellmind.com explains how research on the effects of alcohol abuse on families shows that alcohol abuse and addiction play a role in intimate partner violence, causes families’ financial problems, impairs decision-making skills, and plays a role in child neglect and abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 23% of admissions to public rehab programs are due to alcohol abuse or addiction, meaning alcoholism doesn’t affect a small percentage of people and is a national issue (Buddy).
A highly debated issue dealing with alcoholism is the legal drinking age. There are two sides to this story; those who think the drinking age should be lowered to create a “safer” environment, and those who think the minimum drinking age is fine where it is. According to Drinking Age ProCon.org the particular in favor of lowering the minimum drinking age claim 18 is the age of adulthood in the United States, and adults should have the right to make their own decisions about alcohol consumption. If adults can make decisions about their life like get married, sign contracts, be prosecuted as adults, and join the military, they should be able to consume alcohol. There are also fewer drunk driving traffic accidents and fatalities in many countries with minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 18. Of all traffic fatalities in the united states, 31% of them involve alcohol. This percentage is higher than many countries with a drinking age lower than 21 such as France (29%), Great Britain (16%), Germany (9%), China (4%), and Israel (3%) (“Drinking Age”).
Other supporters claim the MLDA of 21 is largely ineffective because teens consume regardless. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, underage drinking accounts for 17.5% ($22.5 billion) of consumer spending for alcohol in the United States (“Drinking Age”). The people who think the minimum drinking age is fine where it is claim lowering MLDA 21 would be medically irresponsible seen as alcohol consumption can meddle with development of young adult brain’s frontal lobes, essential for important metabolic functions. Lowering MLDA 21 to 18 will irresponsibly allow a greater portion of the population to drink alcohol in bars and nightclubs, which are not safe environments. 76% of bars have sold alcohol to intoxicated patrons, and about half of drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or killed as alcohol-involved drivers in traffic crashes did their drinking at licensed establishments. Not to mention, Lowering MLDA 21 would give high schoolers and even middle schoolers easier access to alcohol (“Drinking Age”).
Many efforts and acts of legislation have been put in place in an effort to reduce the misuse of alcohol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how acts such as the Zero Tolerance Law set maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for drivers under 21 to 0.02 percent or lower beginning October 1, 1998, in an effort to reduce the amount of drunk driving and accidents because of it. Alcohol taxes cause reductions in the levels and frequency of drinking and heavy drinking among youth. Enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors initiate or increase compliance checks at alcohol retailers (such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores) for laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors. Less direct efforts such as warning labels placed on alcoholic beverages, aim to inform and remind drinkers that alcohol consumption can result in birth defects, impaired ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and health problems (“Facts Sheets Preventing Excessive Alcohol Use.”).
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that effects a person physically, psychologically and socially. The term “alcoholism” is commonly used to refer to the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages which leads to alcohol dependence (“Alcoholism”). When a person abuses the use of alcohol they not only effect themselves but the people around them as well. Alcoholism can lead to many serious diseases and cancers such as liver disease and heart disease. Alcoholism also has an effect on the family and social life of its abuser. It can cause financial issues, partner violence and child abuse. The controversy around alcoholism is whether or not the legal drinking age has an effect on alcohol use and if the legal drinking age should be lowered. Those who believe the minimum drinking age should be lowered claim that 18 is when someone legally becomes an adult and should be allowed to make decisions about their life like drinking alcohol. Those who oppose say the minimum drinking age is fine where it is claim that lowering the minimum drinking age could compromise someone’s brain growth and generates an unhealthy environment. In an effort to create a safer society with less alcohol abuse, many efforts have been initiated like the Zero Tolerance laws, alcohol taxes and warning labels.
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