Nine in ten people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol began to smoke, drink and/or use drugs before the age of 18, according to a report recently released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The report goes on to state that the earlier teens use any substance, the greater the risk of addiction.
TIME spoke to Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children's, about the report: Adolescent health experts say that part of the reason for the upward trends has to do with the mixed messages that both parents and society send to adolescents about drug use. "One of the things you hear is that every teen is going to [try some addictive substance]," says Walker. "So what's the big deal, this is normative, and it's fine. But the data shows that no, we should not accept this as normative for adolescents to use and there's a reason they shouldn't be using, and there are things we can do about it."