Study Links Lower Drinking Age With Increased Risk of Binge Drinking

The ability to legally buy alcohol before age 21 is associated with an increased risk of binge drinking later in life, a new study suggests. The study included more than 39,000 people who started drinking in the 1970s, when some states allowed people as young as 18 to purchase alcohol.

People who lived in states with lower minimum drinking ages were not more likely to consume more alcohol overall, or to drink more frequently, compared with those in states with a legal drinking age of 21. However, when they did consume alcohol, they were more likely to drink heavily, Science Daily reports.

“It wasn’t just that lower minimum drinking ages had a negative impact on people when they were young,” lead author Andrew D. Plunk, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a news release. “Even decades later, the ability to legally purchase alcohol before age 21 was associated with more frequent binge drinking.”

Plunk found the effect of the minimum legal drinking age was greatest among men who did not attend college. “Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem,” he said. “But it’s also important not to completely forget about young people who aren’t on college campuses. In our study, they had the greatest risk of suffering the long-term consequences linked to lower drinking ages.”

Even decades later, men who grew up in states with a legal drinking age less than 21 were 19 percent more likely to binge drink more than once a month. Among those who did not attend college, the risk of binge drinking more than once a month rose by 31 percent.

The study appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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    sophia

    December 27, 2015 at 12:46 AM

    I think the drinking age should be at 18 for many reasons 1 being that crime would go down because if college for most people starts at 18 they go to parties and drink. also if people can make the decision to join the army at 18 they should be able to drink too. a third and final reason is that america looks at alcohol as a bad thing therefore it is to the mind of children so naturally they want to break the rules. In Europe the drinking age is way lower then ours in some places and everything is fine with them if we stop teaching kids about just the cons and show them a mature society I think the drinking age should be lowered.

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