Connecting the Dots: Aligning Cross-Sector Approaches to Reduce Adolescent Substance Use Disorder and Suicide—Convening Summary
Connecting the Dots convened in October of 2018, featuring 30 participants from the health, justice, education, and youth development sectors. The assemblage had three goals: (1) to share the latest research on the characteristics of adolescents at highest risk for poor outcomes related to substance misuse and suicide, (2) to identify evidence-based strategies for reducing risks and increasing protective factors for substance misuse and suicide, and (3) to encourage cross-sector collaboration on these issues. Most of the policy recommendations that emerged from the discussion center on a preventive approach, such as building infrastructure to scale up prevention strategies and increasing funding for prevention relative to treatment, with an emphasis on primordial and primary prevention strategies. Speakers also emphasize the experience and empowerment of youth, advocating for tactics that positively develop young patients’ voices and decision-making. They recommend an explicit equity- and trauma-informed approach, which directs resources toward reducing inequalities. The convening summary places strong importance on the potential for cross-sector interventions that capitalize on new interdisciplinary research and social media.