I was reading a few blogs about the effects of drinking, and it got me thinking. I know that they say younger people just don’t have the rationality to drink safely, and that is why the drinking age is 21. However, I was curious to know, is there something scientific behind it, too?
This article reminded me of Andrew’s lecture on the benefits of antibiotics. It points out that the age laws of anything are based upon weighing the risks and the benefits out of doing such a thing at that age. The article also answers my question fairly straightforwardly: The brain is known to continue to develop into your mid-twenties, so drinking can cause developmental problems.
Drinking (especially heavily) can affect the brain in many ways. I found another article that describes some of the most obvious.
Not only does heavy drinking destroy brain cells (and the links between them) and slow development of key areas of the brain, but it also causes damage in people who wouldn’t be considered alcoholics! While this may not completely get rid of the brain cells, it does lessen the quality of the connections between them (the white matter) which is how the brain gets information around all the different sections as well as to the rest of the body.
As sad as it is to admit it, yes I have drank and yes I am underage. Was it worth the risk? Probably not. But is there really that much of a difference between 18 and 21, especially if your brain is continuing to develop until your MID twenties, a few years after you become legal?