U.S. Surgeon Report on Addiction and
the Interconnected Systems Framework

Sent: Friday, December 09, 2016 10:22 AM
Subject: U.S. Surgeon Report on Addiction and the Interconnected Systems Framework

Hello PENT Cadre members, SELPA Directors, and supporters,

I wanted to bring our attention to the recent publication of Facing Addiction in America: The U.S. Surgeon on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health (https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/). This report reminds us why schools have to collaborate with other health agencies and community-based organizations to provide children and families with access to prevention-oriented services. The publication suggested that over 27 million people reported the use of illicit drugs or the misuse of prescription drugs, and over 66 million people reported binge drinking in the past month. Substance use represents one of the most significant public health problems our society faces, with an estimated economic impact of substance misuse at $249 billion for alcohol misuse, and $193 billion for illicit drug use.

The interventions and supports we provide to students in schools, in collaboration with families and other service agencies, go beyond helping students achieve success in school. When we increase access to high quality evidence-based practices, we are not only helping to improve students’ social, emotional, and academic success in school, but also potentially disrupting a negative developmental trajectory towards substance misuse and other longer-term negative outcomes, such as unemployment. Indeed, risk factors (e.g., school failure, behavior problems, lack of connection/commitment to school, and affiliation with other deviant peers) are associated with a host a negative outcomes, and represent preventable and addressable factors with the implementation of strategic school-based supports.  On the flip side, protective factors (e.g., social, emotional, and behavioral competency, positive relationships with teachers and other educators, and recognition/acknowledgement of prosocial behaviors) help buffer students from risk factors and experiencing negative outcomes.

All of the above, provides the reason why our work within PENT is so important. The adoption and implementation of evidence-based prevention and intervention practices that target promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral competencies of students is critical to prevent public health problems, as well as ensure that students are able to experience school and life success.  Our efforts to increase student sense of connection and commitment to school provide significant protection against negative outcomes.

Students who are most at-risk for negative outcomes, require coordinated care across multiple providers (teachers, behavior specialist, mental health provider). Many of you spend a significant amount of time coordinating care for students. In the spirit of enhancing coordinated care, I wanted to urge people to check out the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF). ISF focuses on the interconnection of positive behavioral supports and school mental health systems to improve educational outcomes for all children and youth, especially those with or at risk of developing mental health challenges.  Below are some links to useful resources on ISF:


Clayton R. Cook, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
PENT Research Director


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