The youth in Connecticut are faced with a lot of decisions while growing up. Seemingly endless messages are filtered through the media and insistent peer pressure help to assert the idea that drinking in excess is normal, doing drugs is just a phase, and promiscuity is what a typical teenager goes through. The case isn’t true anymore for a growing number of young teens around the state. Many minors (and adults alike) have taken a stand to resist the use of alcohol and drugs, unbridled sexuality, and even sometimes the consumption of meat and animal bi-products. This lifestyle is called straight edge. The youth that have chosen this way of life made a conscious decision to resist the idea that drinking and smoking are necessary to live a fulfilling or meaningful life. By setting a positive example for those around them, this subculture of Connecticut’s population have made it their goal to rid themselves of the vices they see the people around them abuse.
Connecticut has a growing population of 16 to 21 year old young adults who are using straight edge as a lifestyle choice to not pollute their body, attempt to think more clearly, and find other ways to have fun in their youth beyond parties, social drinking, and drug use. Past the legal drinking age in the state, many choose to continue following their ideas and make a statement to protect their values for life. This idea can seem alienating to some who struggle to make friends in their communities with different ideas, but there is an entire underground music scene that has grown side by side with the morals involved with being straight edge. Connecticut has long since been a beacon of the punk music scene where these free thinking and revolutionary ideas spurred from. Many notable bands from Connecticut and the tri-state area, including Youth of Today and In My Eyes, paved the way for the straight edge scene to grow exponentially in this area along with an awareness of punk music. The small rooms, basements, and VFW halls where these bands play every weekend around the state became a safe haven for those who felt out of place by not subscribing to the standards everyone else around them was following.
Straight edge as a philosophy has become a way for teens and adults to live freely from substances, to think clearly, to find new ways to meet other people, and to escape the bar culture surrounding Connecticut’s major cities. Former Connecticut resident tattoo artist, Nick Baxter, recently said in an interview, “I feel that my mental clarity, intelligence, perception and willpower are all benefited by my choice to remain completely sober and drug-free. It’s forced me to continually work on, and work with, my own mind in order to handle life’s problems and struggles; and there’s an extremely grounding and unshakable truth in that… I have a much truer sense of who I am and where I stand, unclouded by interference or dependence… my accomplishments are sincere acts of self because they aren’t propped up by any kind of chemical crutch or facade.”
Encouraging a strong sense of reflection, the merits of being straight edge are felt deeply by many in Connecticut. A heightened sense of community has been brought about by straight edge, allowing people of all ages to come together and have an open forum concerning these moral issues. Within the turn of the century, this counterculture movement has seen the growth of many positive ideologies which coincide with being drug free such as veganism, vegetarianism, spirituality, compassion, and personal growth. This movement is certainly a guiding light for many youth and adults in the state, preserving the idea that it truly is okay not to drink.