Credit: Isaac Cooper, CASAP
Over the last few years, researchers have shed light on the age that young adults reach physical maturity – and it’s not 18. It’s also not 21. A few studies on the effects of alcohol or drugs on teens and young adults showed that physical maturity, especially of the brain and nervous system, does not occur until a person reaches 25.
Effects of drinking on the brain
When people are still growing and developing physically, it’s understandable that drugs or alcohol could have a more severe effect on the body than when they’re older. After all, when alcohol or drugs are consumed during pregnancy, the effects on the baby can be fatal. Additionally, the impact of alcohol on a developing brain is far more acute than on a mature one, as is the risk of addiction.
A Wall Street Journal article about the effects of alcohol on young brains noted that “from a neuroscientist’s perspective, the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25 and can exhibit these negative effects of alcohol consumption until then.” Similar repercussions to the brain were found in young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who participated in a 2014 study. These people used varying amounts of marijuana, and the changes were tracked by performing brain scans. Even those who occasionally smoked developed abnormalities in their brains. This study came from Harvard and Northwestern Universities.
Raising the legal drinking age to prevent addiction
The earlier teens start drinking, the more likely it is that they will become alcohol dependent later in life. Most Australian teens begin experimenting with alcohol by the age of 14, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies. In other research, 40% of 16- to 17-year-olds admit they drink to get drunk. With 18 to 24-year-olds, this jumps to 63%.
Though seen by some as yet another attempt to stymie personal freedom, if lifting the legal drinking age can help prevent addiction, then perhaps it deserves more serious consideration.
A recent poll asking the public for their own opinion revealed that 64% believe that there are many benefits to changing the legal drinking age to 25. The 36% who weren’t in favor, argued that it will bring more black-market opportunities with non-regulated or approved beverages.Please share this post!