FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: KIM JOHNSON
FEBRUARY 24, 2006 OFFICE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
STATE OFFICIALS JOIN TOGETHER TO REDUCE UNDERAGE DRINKING
Governor, First Lady, AG, Former First Lady to attend a series of community summits.
AUGUSTA, ME—Underage drinking is a significant public health problem across the country. Alcohol is the single most significant contributing factor in the leading causes of death for teens which are car crashes and other accidents, suicide and homicide. To address the issue, the state of Maine is participating in a national wave of community summits sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to mobilize communities around underage drinking prevention efforts. In Maine, twenty-three Underage Drinking Summits are being organized by a broad range of local partners with support from various state-level partners. These Summits are an opportunity for all sectors of a community; from parents and youth to law enforcement and elected officials, to come together to discuss the solutions for underage drinking in their communities.
“Consumption of alcohol by underage youth is a problem not only in Maine, but across the nation,” said Governor John E. Baldacci, “Underage Drinking Summits will provide an opportunity for community members to learn more about new research on the issue and to discuss how their community can best prevent underage alcohol use.”
Alcohol is so entrenched in society that no single prevention strategy will solve the problem. The Underage Drinking Summits will assist community members in identifying the local challenges to reducing underage drinking, and will empower community members to identify the role they have to play in the solution to the problem.
Attorney General Steve Rowe will be speaking at most of the community summits around the state. He will tell participants that “Alcohol use by children has profound and devastating consequences. Heavy alcohol use negatively affects developing brains and leads to greatly increased chances of alcohol addiction.” Rowe is participating in the summits because he believes that “We must come together as one community to change the social beliefs of young people in relation to drinking. These summits are the first step toward this change.”
Partners in this statewide effort include the Office of Substance Abuse (OSA), the Maine Association of Prevention Programs (MAPP), the Governor and First Lady, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Public Safety, Medical Care Development, Ethos Marketing and Design, the Youth Empowerment and Policy Group and local community coalitions.
“We can build a safer, healthier Maine by bringing together these regional coalitions of youth, adults and organizations working to protect the health and safety of young people and communities by reducing alcohol use and its negative consequences,” said First Lady Karen Baldacci. “We encourage all community members to become involved in these Summits and be part of the solution.”
The first of the state’s Underage Drinking Summits will be held February 28 in Topsham at the Mt. Ararat High School Commons Room, from 6-8 p.m. This summit will feature Attorney General Steve Rowe, the former First Lady Mary Herman, and a local panel including MSAD 75 Superintendent Michael Wilhelm, Sexual Assault Support Services Executive Director Susan Hall Dreher, Bath Police Chief Pete Lizanecz, and Mid Coast Hospital Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Steve Fisher.
Other Summits will be held throughout the state during the months of March and April. For more information or Summit schedules, contact Megan Rice, MAPP coordinator, at 207-621-8118.