Prevention & Wellness | Underage Drinking

Underage Drinking Community Coalitions

Since 2006, Rushford has received grants from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to organize community coalitions in Middletown and Meriden utilizing SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) process. Rushford staff is working with community leaders in both communities to build effective collaborations that address the causal factors of underage drinking and to develop environmental strategies aimed at educating parents, caregivers and youth on the risks and consequences of underage drinking.

For a document list of members of the Middletown Substance Abuse Prevention Council, please click here. For more information please contact Felicia Goodwine-Vaughters at 860.852.1080 or

Success achieved in Meriden in reducing underage drinking led to receiving a $625,000 federal Drug Free Communities grant to continue to address youth alcohol use as well as youth marijuana and prescription drug misuse. For the Meriden Healthy Youth Coalition document, please click here. For more information please contact Krystle Blake at 203.268.6800 or

The Problem of Underage Drinking in Connecticut

Underage drinking continues to be one of the leading health risks for Connecticut's youth. Young people in Connecticut report that alcohol is extremely easy to obtain from friends, parents, other adults and sales outlets, even though it is illegal to sell or provide it for them. As community members, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to change this fact. The age of initiation of alcohol use for youth in Connecticut is 11 years old, two years earlier than the national average.

Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Alcohol Use:

  • Slightly more than half (51.8 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2011 survey, similar to the rate in 2010 (51.8 percent). This translates to an estimated 133.4 million current drinkers in 2011.
  • In 2011, nearly one quarter (22.6 percent) of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking. This translates to about 58.3 million people. The rate in 2011 was similar to the estimate in 2010 (23.1 percent). Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the 30 days prior to the survey.
  • In 2011, heavy drinking was reported by 6.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older, or 15.9 million people. This rate was lower than the rate of heavy drinking in 2010 (6.7 percent). Heavy drinking is defined as binge drinking on at least 5 days in the past 30 days.
  • Among young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2011, the rate of binge drinking was 39.8 percent. The rate of heavy drinking was 12.1 percent, which was lower than the rate in 2010 (13.5 percent).
  • The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 13.3 percent in 2011. Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in 2011 were 7.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively. These rates were all similar to those reported in 2010 (13.6, 7.9, and 1.7 percent, respectively).
  • In 2011, an estimated 11.1 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This percentage was lower than in 2002, when it was 14.2 percent. The rate of driving under the influence of alcohol was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (21.9 percent).
  • There were an estimated 9.7 million underage (aged 12 to 20) drinkers in 2011, including 6.1 million binge drinkers and 1.7 million heavy drinkers.

Resources for Parents, Teens and Community Members

Connecticut Law on Underage Drinking

Underage drinking myths and facts

Why do adolescents drink?

Tips for Teens: The truth about alcohol

Too Smart to Start: The affects of alcohol on your body