The proportion of 18 to 25-year-olds among the clients of one of the UK's leading debt charities has doubled over the past three years.
The young are "desensitised" to debt, the charity claims
In 2002, less than 6% of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service's (CCCS) clients were under 25 years of age.
But during the first half of 2005, nearly 13% of people needing debt advice were aged between 18 and 25.
The CCCS said the increase was due to young people embracing freely available credit as a "way of life."
According to Malcolm Hurlston, CCCS chairman, the greater availability of credit has meant that younger people have become "desensitised" to debt.
"Credit cards have blurred the distinction between borrowing and spending and for many young people, student loans have made borrowing normal," he said.
Mr Hurlston added that under 25s could easily fall into debt difficulty because they usually have fewer assets than older people to fall back on when times get tough.
"Bankruptcy figures are soaring, and this rise may be accounted for by the young who are without assets and who have overspent on credit cards and personal loans."
Overall, the average amount owed by people under 25 seeking advice from the CCCS has risen by almost a quarter in the past two years, from £11,833 in 2003 to £14,984 in 2005.