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News Apr 13, 2010 - 7:59 AM

Connecticut communities ban together to prevent underage drinking


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Local substance abuse prevention coalitions move into high gear this month, National Alcohol Awareness Month, joining together in a public awareness campaign to reduce underage drinking in Connecticut. For the first time, local communities are partnering with the State of Connecticut's SetTheRulesCT campaign, which aims to educate parents about Connecticut's Social Host law and the impact of alcohol on the teen brain.

The State's federally funded SetTheRulesCT campaign is featured on television, radio, bus, and billboard advertising throughout Connecticut. A Web site,, offers parents information, news and resources about where to find help locally.

"I have found that SetTheRulesCT is one of the most comprehensive and informative resources for parents ... in regards to preventing underage drinking and the effects of alcohol on the brain," noted Kim McTighe, a youth counselor at the Vernon Youth Services Bureau. "Partnering with the State in this effort broadens our reach and helps us get this critical information out to parents in a more effective way."

Parents tend to dramatically underestimate teenage binge drinking and their own child's drinking in particular. In some cases, parents enable and/or condone underage drinking. In anticipation of prom and graduation seasons, dozens of local substance abuse prevention coalitions across Connecticut are tailoring the SetTheRulesCT advertisements for use in their own communities.

The following communities and coalitions have coordinated their advertising efforts to complement the State's campaign this spring:

· Bridgeport United Coalition

· Enfield Together Coalition

· Glastonbury Alcohol and Drug Council (GLAD)

· Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse (HVCASA) (serving Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown, New Milford, Sherman, Ridgefield, Redding, New Fairfield, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington, Warren, Morris, Goshen, Litchfield, Kent, Sharon, Salisbury, Canaan, North Canaan, and Cornwall)

· Lower Fairfield County Regional Action Council (LFRAC) (serving Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, and New Canaan)

· Madison Alcohol and Drug Education Coalition (M.A.D.E. in Madison)

· Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) (serving Cromwell, Portland, East Haddam, East Hampton, Middletown, Middlefield, Durham, Haddam, Chester, Killingworth, Deep River, Essex, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Clinton)

· Newtown Youth & Family Services

· Southeastern Regional Action Council (SEFRAC) (serving Bozrah, Colchester, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Stonington, Waterford, and Voluntown)

· Valley Substance Abuse Action Council (VSAAC) (serving Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton)

· Waterbury Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking

Bridgeport will implement the campaign by featuring the prevention messages on yard signs, billboards, cinema advertising, buses, and floor decals appearing in alcohol retail establishments.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback from the community about our efforts to fight the ongoing battle of underage drinking," said Valerie Sorrentino of the Bridgeport United Coalition. "We feel confident in our prevention campaign and hope to see great results."

Enfield and Glastonbury are teaming together to use radio advertisements to reach their audiences. Enfield also is using direct mail to spread the word. Sticking with a team effort, Glastonbury plans to work with East of the River Action for Substance Abuse Elimination (ERASE) in cinema advertising.

Many communities will be using specially designed Post-It notes with fill-in-the-blanks for teens to let their parents know where they're going, who they'll be with, the phone number where they'll be, and when they'll return. It also includes the statement, "Yes, I will leave if there is alcohol and I will call you if I need a ride."

To learn more about SetTheRulesCT, Connecticut's underage drinking laws, the impact of alcohol on the teen brain, and to find local resources by town, visit

The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is addressing the growing problem of underage drinking through numerous initiatives, including public advertising programs. The SetTheRulesCT public awareness campaign is funded entirely through the agency's Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) program. SetTheRulesCT is administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (JJAC).

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