It is great to see lots of dialogue about underage drinking. One of the reasons the topic is on the forefront is because the federal government is interested in it and has funded many states, including Maine, to do something about it. Maine has provided that federal funding to local Healthy Maine Partnerships, so that local communities can implement environmental strategies that will, hopefully, reduce underage drinking.

It’s really a public health issue. Accidental death is the biggest cause of death for young people, and many accidents involve alcohol (and other drugs, but alcohol is the biggest drug of use). We know of the local tragedies: car crashes, accidental drownings, hit-and-run deaths. Also, young people tell us that unprotected sex typically occurs while drinking.

Alcohol is an addictive substance, and the younger a person is, the easier it is to become addicted. Many readers correctly point out that not everyone who drinks becomes addicted. Young brains are at heightened risk to developing tolerance and addiction. If you don’t believe that, go to any county jail and ask the inmates how old they were when they started drinking.

Environmental strategies include enforcing current underage drinking and supplying laws, and making the public aware of the risks of underage drinking. It is great to see healthy dialogue about underage drinking and high risk drinking. Many Sun Journal readers are quite right – don’t start until legal age (for many sound reasons) and then, drink responsibly.

Joan Churchill, Hebron

Family services director, Community Concepts

Auburn, South Paris, Rumford

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