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Editorial: An attorney's important message

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Editorial: An attorney's important message
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

Susan Gaertner, who was first elected Ramsey County Attorney in 1994 and subsequently re-elected three times since, has an important message to share: Make sure you talk to your kids about drugs.

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Gaertner, who spoke Tuesday before Worthington's Noon Kiwanis group, has made fighting the epidemic of methamphetamine a top priority, and speaks frequently to just about anyone who will listen on this public scourge. "It is something that undergirds so much of what we do as county attorneys, no matter where we're from," Gaertner said Tuesday.

Gaertner can fire off -- at will -- statistics pertaining to the number of Minnesotans addicted to drugs and alcohol (387,000, not including those younger than age 18), or how many crimes the average meth user commits per week (five to seven). But what seems to be Gaertner's most important message is that addiction is "the single most preventable health problem in our state" -- and, as a result, the single most preventable crime problem.

Gaertner spoke Tuesday about brain development, noting the brain usually isn't fully developed until age 25. The last part to develop, she said, is the pre-frontal cortex (the front portion) of the brain, the part responsible for a good deal of rationale and judgment. Most addiction begins between ages 18 and 25, she added.

Gaertner also showed often humorous and ultimately important commercials (see drugfree.org) that stress the importance of talking to youths about drugs and addiction. These are messages well worth hearing by all.

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