NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 90-percent of Americans suffering from addiction started using before the age of 18.
"Adolescent substance use is America's number one public health problem," said Susan Foster, who conducted a study of 1,000 American teens for the Center. "It's a huge, huge public health problem of epidemic proportion."
LISTEN: WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports
"Sometimes we minimize it. We say 'Oh well, at least they're only using alcohol. They're not using cocaine'," Foster said.
The study found 46-percent, or 6 million U.S. high school students use these substances.
"One of the most striking findings is that one in eight adolescents, these are high school-age teens, already have the disease of addiction," she added.
"It interferes with brain development and it heightens dramatically the risk of addiction," Foster said.
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