Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction (1) started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18, according to a national study released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.
Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem reveals that adolescence is the critical period for the initiation of substance use and its consequences. The CASA report finds 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 are addicted, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who started using at age 21 or older.
“Teen substance use is our nation’s number one public health problem. Smoking, drinking and using other drugs while the brain is still developing dramatically hikes the risk of addiction and other devastating consequences,” said Jim Ramstad, Former Member of Congress (MN-3) and a CASA board member who also chaired the report’s National Advisory Commission.