The Partnership at Responds to National Study on Teen Substance Abuse, America’s #1 Public Health Problem

~ Study Finds 90 Percent of All Americans Struggling With Addiction

Started Abusing Substances Before Age 18 ~

New York, NY – June 29, 2011 – A national study released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University underscores the vital role of parents in preventing drug and alcohol abuse among their children and teens.

The study, “Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem,” reveals that adolescence is the critical period for initiation of substance use and its consequences. The CASA report also found that 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 the study, 1 in 4 American teens that began using an addictive substance before age 18 became addicted, compared to 1 in 25 American young adults who started using substances at age 21 or older. The report stresses that the disease of addiction has roots in adolescence, when the teen brain, is still developing.

“This study serves as a stark reminder to parents that they can’t afford to treat teen drug use and drinking lightly – as a ‘phase’ or a ‘rite of passage,’” said Sean Clarkin, Director of Strategy and Programs for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Early use of drugs and alcohol is so clearly associated with problems later in life that parents need to take action right away when they realize their kids are using drugs or drinking, and get immediate help for a child when there’s a substance abuse problem. This is especially true when there are additional risk factors such as a family history of substance abuse or addiction, or a co-occurring mental health issue.”

The CASA report revealed 75 percent (10 million) of all high school students have used addictive substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine; 1 in 5 of them meets the medical criteria for addiction. It also found 46 percent (6.1 million) of all high school students currently use addictive substances; 1 in 3 of them meets the medical criteria for addiction.

To learn more about how to help parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children, please visit

The CASA report is a nationally representative study comprised of online surveys of 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students and 500 school personnel; in-depth analyses of seven national data sets; interviews with 50 leading experts in a broad range of fields; five focus groups with students, parents and school personnel; and a review of 2,000 scientific articles and reports.

The report was funded by grants from Legacy®, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Michael Alan Rosen Foundation.

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The Partnership at is a nonprofit organization that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children.  Bringing together renowned scientists, parent experts and communications professionals, this public health nonprofit translates current research on teen behavior, parenting, addiction and treatment into easy-to-understand resources at  The organization also reaches families through its community education programs which focus on local drug and alcohol issues of concern for parents, youth and the Hispanic community. the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and is thankful to SAG/AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity.

[1] Meet medical criteria for nicotine dependence or alcohol or other drug abuse or dependence.

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