The top public health problem in the United States is not obesity, as many might guess, says one public policy organization. The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse, also known as CASA, leaves no question as to where it stands on the subject, titling its latest study "Adolescent Substance Use: America’s No. 1 Public Health Problem."
The report finds that the consumption of alcohol, the use of tobacco and marijuana and the abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise among teens. That's not terribly surprising but this might be: CASA found that 9 out of 10 adult addicts started using before the age of 18, compared with 1 in 25 Americans who started using these substances at age 21 or older.
Another finding: 75% of high school students have used addictive substances with 1 in 5 of them meeting the medical criteria for addiction.
Researchers believe that the adolescent brain is still developing in the areas that lead to decision-making, judgment, impulse control and emotions, making teens more likely than adults to take risks, which makes them more likely to try things like tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
The report also identified the top 4 substances among adolescents as:
4) Prescription drugs
To download the entire CASA report, click here.