In youth encourages a culture of high

In the early 1980s, the
national minimum JB1 drinking
age was changed from eighteen to twenty-one years old.  Alcohol’s effects on the body is debated
often, and constantly sparks controversyJB2 
in legislation concerning the legal drinking age, seen throughout history, with
prohibition and the whisky tax.  There is
clear evidence, biologically, that alcohol effects a person’s psychological
states and normative functioning states. Negative repercussions associated with
drinking habits as a teenager lead to potentially life-changing biological
effects the user is susceptible to while under the influence. Until age twenty-five,
the brain has yet to fully develop, and effects of alcohol on said development
can be tremendously detrimental, seen by publications from the National
Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and other organizations alike (NIAA
2015). The NIAA, though possessing a negative opinion towards drinking in
general, works to expose alcohols’ effect on health and well-being, and in
doing so has collaborated with researchers, doctors, and psychologists since 1971JB3 .  Tolerance and dependency to alcohol can carry
scientific effects from adolescence to adulthood, as many doctors can attribute
health concerns to adolescent substance abuse. Underage drinkingJB4 
can lead to negative scientific effects which results in detrimental societal
consequences, stunted brain development, and physical consequencesJB5 .

            The perpetuation of the drinking culture present among
American youth encourages a culture of high risk situations with incredibly
adverse repercussions seen through sociological consequences. Binge
drinking, typically associated with consumption in a party setting, is one
example of a high-risk situation. The Center of Disease Control, CDC, observed
more than 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth happens while bingeingJB6 ,
backing the NIAAA research stating that although underage drinkers consume less
alcohol in general, when drinking they drink more (NIAA 2015). As blood alcohol
content rises, so do impairment levels of an influenced person (CDC 2017).  The CDC, founded in 1946, is a branch of the
US Department of Health and Human Services. Tasked with researching,
monitoring, and influencing public health, the organization houses a staffJB7 
of medical experts, scientists, and computer scientists, working to ensure the
most reliable information possible. Impairment ranges from mild- minimal speech,
memory, and coordination issues, to life threatening- potential loss of
consciousness and suppression of vital organs (NIAAA 2015). The infrequent
consumption of underage drinkers develops a need to overcompensate and drink
more when available. This leads to higher impairment which furthers lapse of
judgment, control, and overall biological controls. Social consequences of
binging are present even after the impairment is alleviated. When used by the
offender, victim, or both, alcohol significantly increases the chance of sexual
assault (NIAAA 2015). Data from a survey prepared for the National Institute of
Justice, The Campus Sexual Assault Study, revealed 7.8% of women sexually
assaulted were incapacitated after deliberately consuming alcohol or drugs
(NCJRS 2007).  The NIJ’s mission is to,
through research, provide the public with an increased understanding of justice/
crime on a national level, utilizing pure science and research. WomenJB8 
are typically more vulnerable to assault than men, so alcohol introduction can
result in a high-risk situation. Alcohol also plays a contributing factor in a
female’s willingness to have unprotected sex with one or more partners, leaving
susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Not all
underage drinkers consume to the point of memory impairment or lack of motor control,
but biological consequences, such as blood alcohol poisoning, unwanted teen
pregnancy, or even sexual assault, are prominent threats. Sociological consequences
of underage alcohol consumption are seen the physical suffering teenagers face.

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            Humans are psychologically complex, with brains being our
focal pointJB9 .
The high capacity for learning, memory, and cognition allow for human existence
as the dominant species.  Brain
development is vital to function and grow, but underage drinking can inhibit growth
and lead to a myriad of other issues, seen through psychological impacts. Heavy
alcohol use can disrupt neurogenesis, the engender of new nerve cells, that
occurs in the hippocampus, problematic considering this the location of
long-term memory storage. Researchers affiliated Department of Pharmaceutical
Sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, found four days of
binge drinking showed decreased neurogenesis by 33% the day of, and 28% two
days after exposure to alcohol (Wiley Company 2009). Introduction of new
neurons plays a significant role in learning, memory, and storage of
information, thus disruptions can result in cognitive learning and memory
setbacks. Additionally, those who extensively drank, saw inhibited development
of the prefrontal cortex and overall white matter volume- manufactured of neural
fibers that connect different regions of the brain (Blackwell 2008). The
aforementioned was published after a clinical study done by the Department of
Psychiatry at the University of California was conducted. The prefrontal cortex
is tasked with encoding relevant information in working memory and high levels
of alcohol are detrimental to this process. The brain is not fully developed
until a person reaches their mid-twenties, so even when someone can legally
consume alcohol, the potential exists for damage in the hippocampus and
prefrontal cortex. Alcohol consumed at young ages exponentially increases
alcohol abuse and tolerance after adolescence. Teenagers who start drinking at
fifteen have a 41% chance for future dependency, compared to 10% for those who
start drinking at the legal age (NIAAA 2015). This exhibits habits started as a
teenager can morph into dependency as an adult. Problem solving skills, grades,
mood and mental health are potentially jeopardized when it comes to underage
alcohol abuse. Studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information
show that the relationship existing between alcohol and mental health in adolescents
is almost reciprocal, many teens use alcohol as self-medication, to cope with
stress of daily life (NCBI 2008). Alcohol can exacerbate existing mental health
issues, such as depression, and further a downward spiral (American
Psychological Association 2016). The NCBI sets the standards for other
databases distributing scientific research and information. It was established
1988 with the mission to store the most reliable knowledge and research of
molecular biology and provide an international data base of which is credibJB10 le. The American Psychological
Association, founded in 1892 at the University of Pennsylvania, works to
provide unbiased research and qualifying previously accepted ideas through
experimentation and observation on a national scale. The effects of alcohol are
taxing on the brain. These psychological effects of adolescent alcohol use have
shown negatively impacted brain development.

            Biologically, alcohol affects the body in numerous ways,
regardless consumer age. Harvard health, founded in 1782 and affiliated with
over a dozen hospitals, informs that alcohol is a depressant that slows the
central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, as well as motor
coordination and reaction time (Harvard Health Publishing 2014). The
impairments’ merit is seen in statistics from 2010, with one in five teenage
drivers involved in fatal crashes having alcohol in their system (CDC 2012).
While drinking, the liver is attacked and cardio vascular disease becomes a
threat. Binge drinking doubles risk of death among people who initially survive
heart attacks (Harvard Health Publishing 2014). While teens are unlikely to
have cardiovascular disease during adolescence, there is amplified potential
for issues later in when drinking is involved. Statistics show alcohol consumption
in short time frames to be common among adolescences (CDC 2017). Physical
characteristics of drinking too much alcohol in a condensed time frame can result
in alcohol poisoning. Breathing, heart rate, gag reflex, and body temperature
can all be affected by the influx of alcohol (NIAAA 2015).  Periodic abuse can also result in insomnia
and overall changes in sleep pattern (Harvard Health Publishing 2014).  Alcohol consumption wreaks havoc upon the
physical bodies of those who are still developing, leading to even more health
issues and concerns immediately and later in life. 

            Scientifically, the effects of underage drinking results
in health concerns. Those who chose to drink outside of the law can find
themselves more susceptible to social pressures that result in biological
changes, brain development issues and dependency, and finally an overall
physical change in health and normative functions. The drinking laws, from a scientific
context should remain as is. The body is not matured enough to handle the
effects of drinking heavily before twenty-one years of age as seen by sociological,
psychological, and biological effects.