FAQ Part I: Teen Drinking
Are all Norwalk kids drinking?
No! The good news is that the majority of Norwalk kids are NOT drinking. But the 2018 Norwalk youth survey found that:
1 in 3 (32%) of all high schoolers surveyed (9th & 11th graders) surveyed drank 1 or more alcoholic beverages in the past month, compared with the state average of 1 in 4 high schoolers (26%).
25% of all grades surveyed (7th, 9th and 11th) had at least 1 alcoholic drink in the past month
13% of 7th graders drank in the past month. See infobrief for grade by grade drinking.
Almost 1 in 4 Norwalk juniors reported binge-drinking in the past 2 weeks
The most common drinking location reported by teens is at their own home or a friend's house.
Which kids are most likely to drink?
In the 2018 Norwalk youth survey, teen alcohol use varied by race. 30% of white teens drank in the past month compared with 26% of multiracial, 25% of Hispanics, 22% of blacks and 11% of Asians.
Students reporting mental health concerns (depression, suicidality, eating disorders) were more likely to drink.
Students reporting vandalism, stealing, truancy, or hitting were more likely to drink.
There was a 33 point difference in drinking between Norwalk teens who lack positive peer influence compared with those who reported having it.
There was an 11 point difference in drinking between Norwalk teens who reported a lack of adult role models compared with those who have role models. Only 37% of teens surveyed reported having adult role models.
How common is drunk driving in Norwalk?
In the 2018 youth survey, more than 1 in 4 of Norwalk youth reported riding with a drunk driver at least once in the past 12 months.
Just among 7th graders, 24% had ridden with a drunk driver... probably an adult family member, since their peers don't have licenses.
Only 2% of Norwalk teens reported driving after drinking.
Make sure your teens know they can call you for a ride even in the middle of the night!
Why shouldn't teens drink?
The younger a person starts drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. For every year a teen waits before having their first drink, they reduce their chance of addiction by 14%.
Alcohol impairs learning & memory in teens since their brains are still developing.
90% of teen drinking is binge drinking (4-5 drinks at one time), which is associated with risky behaviors like impaired driving, unprotected sex, assault, alcohol poisoning, and more.
And let's not forget: it's illegal until a person is 21!
Take an alcohol quiz here.
Myth: Kids need to practice so they can hold their liquor
Fact: "Research in the U.S., Europe and Australia shows that when teens drink even the smallest amounts, they are more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life. They are more likely to drink more frequently, in heavier amounts, and are more likely to combine alcohol with other drugs.” -Alcohol researcher Dr. Rob Turrisi, Penn State University
Fact: Rather than learn to "drink responsibly," teens & college aged young adults are more likely to binge-drink, which is defined as males having 5+ drinks or females having 4+ drinks within 2 hours. This impairs judgment, increasing likelihood of driving while impaired and engaging in other risky behaviors.
Myth: Teen drinking isn't a problem in other cultures
Fact: "Most European youth have higher rates of alcohol-related problems because of their heavy drinking." -MADD
Fact: "In 1999, New Zealand lowered its purchase age from 20 to 18. Not only did drunk driving crashes increase, but youth started to drink earlier, binge drinking escalated, and in the 12 months following the decrease in legal drinking age, there was a 50 percent increase in intoxicated 18- and 19-year-old patients at the Auckland Hospital emergency room." -MADD
FAQ Part 2: Responsible Drinking
How much is a standard drink?
In the United States, a "standard" drink contains about 14 grams of alcohol. That's the amount in:
12 oz of beer (if the beer is 5% Alcohol by Volume)
5 oz of wine (if the wine is 12% Alcohol)
1.5 oz (1 shot) of liquor (if the liquor is 40% Alcohol, aka 80 proof)
A regular size wine bottle contains about 5 standard drinks. Drinks in restaurants are often 2 or more "standard" drinks. For example, wine may come in 6oz-9oz amounts. A cocktail often contains 2 shots. Learn more & get tools for making changes at Rethinking Drinking.
How many drinks are safe?
In CT, an adult is legally intoxicated if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is 0.8. A person under age 21 is legally intoxicated if their BAC is 0.2.
Sex and weight affect how fast the body metabolizes alcohol. (See BAC graphic below.)
The average adult American female will reach a BAC of 0.8 between 2 and 3 standard drinks.
The average adult American male will reach a BAC of 0.8 after 3 standard drinks.
It takes the body about 1 3/4 hours to process one standard drink.
Binge drinking is when people consume 4-5 (or more) drinks within 2 hours--far more than the body can process. Health effects can include overdose, brain damage, and death.
See CT's Driving Under the Influence laws here.
What should parents tell kids?
Watch video of the MADD Power of Parents presentation we co-hosted in February 2021.
Have a safe driving contract with your kids.
Talk to your kids about the risks of alcohol, alternatives to relaxing, ways to say no, and strategies like holding a coke in a solo cup at a party (no one knows it's alcohol free).
Tell your kids they can blame you or call you for a ride if they are in a position where they feel uncomfortable.
Keep your alcohol locked up and keep track of what is in the bottles. Consider using our Liquor Stickers--available at participating package stores starting with the 2020 holidays!
Be clear with your kids and their friends: No drinking allowed under your roof or on your property. (CT's Social Host Law makes you liable!)
How can adults drink responsibly?
Watch what you're role modeling! Do you often say "I really need a drink"? Try alternatives like taking a walk.
Make arrangements for a ride if you've been drinking, such as using Norwalk Transit District's Wheels2U $2 pickups/dropoffs on Thursday-Sunday evenings.
A recent meta-study published in The Lancet found that drinking more than 7 drinks per week increases health risks. It also found that if men reduce their alcohol intake from 14 weekly drinks (the current US guideline) to fewer than 7 weekly drinks, they may live 1-2 years longer.
What is the Social Host Law?
Connecticut has a Social Host Law, which makes the property owner/renter responsible if anyone underage is drinking on their property. So even if you didn't know that kids were sneaking your alcohol, you can get charged with a Class A Misdemeanor:
up to 1 year in jail
So... Lock Your Liquor!