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21 for a Reason Blog

Connecticut has established 21 as the legal minimum age for drinking alcohol, purchasing tobacco products, cannabis use, and casino gambling. The 21 for a Reason Blog provides information about the risks of these activities for underage youth and discusses why the minimum age is 21 for a Reason.

Latest Posts:

Every Story Matters: Bringing Youth into the Fold During Problem Gambling Awareness Month

“I blew $500 dollars on one stupid game.” “I’m gambling on my phone before class and during the school day, even during the 2-minute walk to my next class.” “I’ve borrowed money from friends, family, everyone. There’s no one left who trusts me.” “I thought I hit rock bottom before—but this is definitely rock bottom now.”

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2024 logoMarch is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is Every Story Matters—a reminder, says the National Council on Problem Gambling, that “every narrative, battle and triumph related to problem gambling is significant.” Bringing these accounts to light is no small undertaking, for even as online gambling continues to see explosive growth, we’re less likely to hear the stories or see representation of those who struggle with it. Because problem gamblers exhibit no outward symptoms and are often plagued by a deep sense of shame, this is often called “the silent addiction”—and for underage gamblers, who may fear legal repercussions, this silence is even more pronounced.

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Posted 2/29/2024

SERAC Reflects on Youth Prevention Wins in 2023; Looks to the Year Ahead

In the fight to prevent youth substance misuse, Connecticut remains at the forefront, with strong prevention programs, available funding from settlements, and a long list of services and programs to address and treat addiction. Our state continues to make progress, yet there is still crucial work to be done. Take a look at what’s ahead in 2024.

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Posted 2/6/2024

Meet SERAC’s Local Partners in Youth Substance Use Prevention

Time after time, studies show that stopping youth substance use before it ever starts is the most effective and most cost-efficient way to combat the use of alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, and other drugs. By increasing the age at which young people first try these substances—or by preventing it altogether—we can also avert lifelong addictions, which most often begin during the teen and adolescent years. Because prevention is so critical, SERAC partners with many organizations at the state and local levels to strengthen our efforts and amplify our impact.

By working together, we can share needs assessments and best practices, make the most of substance use prevention funding and resources, and ultimately address the root causes and impacts of substance misuse. Today, to highlight the power of collaboration, we’re putting some of our partners in the spotlight.

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Posted 1/5/2024

Combatting Youth Holiday Stress Through Community Connection & Self-Care

It may be “the most wonderful time of the year” — but for many of us, the holiday season brings a wave of stress and anxiety as our to-do lists swell and our shopping lists grow ever longer. Recent studies show that even kids and teens aren’t immune to holiday stress, and that can spell trouble for those without adequate coping skills and support systems. While routines are interrupted by winter breaks and adults are preoccupied, young people may be at heightened risk for substance use as a way to self-manage their emotions.

Here, we’ll take a look at potential triggers for holiday stress in teens and adolescents, and explore two powerful ways of combatting it: by getting involved in the community through volunteer work and by making time for self-care.

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Posted 12/13/2023

Underage Sports Betting: A Risk Factor for Substance Use

Studies repeatedly show a strong association between youth gambling addiction and substance use—and with gambling now more accessible than ever to teens and adolescents, this should be cause for concern. Alarmingly, three out of four youth with a gambling addiction also struggle with alcohol use, while 60% are addicted to nicotine.

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Posted 11/1/2023

Red Ribbon Week 2023: SERAC Puts Spotlight on Oral Nicotine

This month, we’re preparing for Red Ribbon Week, an annual nationwide campaign to prevent underage alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. This is a great opportunity for families and communities to talk about how these substances can impact young people. Something that often gets overlooked in these discussions is nicotine, which may seem less risky compared to other drugs. But we know that despite declining cigarette use in younger generations, nicotine dependence has barely loosened its grip on the population. Younger people are simply getting hooked on different products—such as oral nicotine.

As oral nicotine pouches continue to gain popularity across the country, they’ve emerged as a problem particularly among youth. In SERAC’s 2021-22 School Health Survey, more Connecticut high school students reported using non-cigarette tobacco products than those who used cigarettes. A fall 2020 study also found that 13% of 15-24-year-olds had used nicotine pouches in the past 30 days. This trend warrants attention, and SERAC is taking a closer look at how these products are used, how they differ from other products on the market, and what makes them dangerous.

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Posted 10/3/2023

Back to School & Youth Mental Health

Returning to the classroom can be a challenging time for people of all ages, including young adults going off to college. It is normal for students to feel a full range of emotions about going back to school, from anxiety to excitement. To set them up for success, parents, caregivers, and educators can encourage youth to talk about how they are feeling—and create safe spaces to do so. 

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Posted 8/30/2023