Why does "having fun" always seem to involve alcohol? How many of your social relationships typically involve alcohol? What is it like living in Westport when you're sober?
Alcohol consumption in coastal Fairfield County is higher than in the rest of the state. As co-chair of the Westport Prevention Coalition (WPC), Positive Directions recently hosted and helped organize an event to explore how Westport fits into this narrative. The event, "Mindful Drinking: Reimagining Our Alcohol Habits & How They Impact Our Relationships," featured a panel of local Westport residents. Our Prevention Director, Margaret Watt, moderated the panel, which included a Westport high school student, parents, professionals, and a person in recovery.
Through this one-hour conversation with differing perspectives, we gained insight into the alcohol culture in Westport. Some of the issues brought up during the discussion include teen alcohol consumption, senior citizens’ alcohol use during the pandemic, and navigating how to expose your child to alcohol, especially as a parent who drinks around their children. Should parents be turning a blind eye to the underage drinking taking place because it’s just “kids being kids?” Why has there been an uptick in alcohol consumption for all ages during the pandemic? Why do most adults drink whenever they get together with friends? These are just some of the enlightening questions explored throughout this audio.
Westport has a particularly high teen drinking rate. Last spring, as part of Positive Directions' prevention work, we conducted a youth survey that found 60% of high school seniors in Westport reported current alcohol use, compared to a state average of 38% of seniors in 2019. (Learn more about our surveys here.) There are serious repercussions that come with teenage drinking. Youth who drink before age 21 are significantly more likely to develop an addiction to it, with children who drink before age 11 at highest risk. Meanwhile, youth who wait until the legal drinking age are much less at risk of developing an addiction. In addition, research indicates that children whose parents start a conversation about drugs and alcohol at a young age are much less likely to use these substances at all in their teens.
To learn more about why alcohol has become such a huge part of our culture here, we highly encourage Westport residents to listen to our roundtable discussion. To listen, click here. To read Dan Woog’s 06880 article about this event, visit his blog post here.
For information on how parents should start the conversation about drugs & alcohol with their kids, we are offering the opportunity to watch and discuss the film “Don’t Wait” with other Westport parents. Please click here for more details about the event.
To learn more about the Westport Prevention Coalition, visit www.westporttogether.org/prevention-coalition.