Researchers from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA, found that nine out of 10 American addicts started smoking, drinking or using drugs before the age of 18 and one in four of those people become addicted to some sort of drug.
“We now have enough science to show that adolescent substance use is America’s no. 1 public health problem,” said Susan Foster, senior investigator of the study. “By recognizing this as a health problem and responding to it, we can actually make the difference by improving the life prospects of teens and saving costs in society.”
Adolescence is a critical period of brain development and experts say the teen years put people at increased danger of addiction because their brains are more sensitive to substances and they’re more likely to experiment and take risks.