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The SPF Process

"The SPF Process" by Center on the Family. All rights reserved.

The SPF Process

Let's make a difference in our state, county, or community! 

You probably have some ideas about how to do that, which may be why you are visiting this site. You may also have some questions about whether your prevention programs are addressing the right issues or how you can tell if your program goals are being met. 

The Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) is a national public health initiative sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA). Five steps and two guiding principles of the SPF provide prevention planners with a comprehensive approach towards understanding and addressing substance misuse and related health problems in communities. Having evolved from previous initiatives in the prevention field, the SPF focuses on risk and protective factors of prevention, selection of evidence-based interventions, and measuring outcomes. It relies on the use of data-driven planning to allocate resources, and to build prevention capacity and infrastructure. 

The SPF is an ongoing cyclical change process that consists of five steps: assessment, capacity, planning, implementation, and evaluation

  • Assessment refers to a process by which we gather information to better understand problems and related needs of a community. It also refers to examining resources and capacity to address these problems and needs.

  • Capacity refers to the importance of recognizing the existing capacity in a community, as well as building capacity in essential ways. Capacity is defined as resources (e.g., fiscal, human, and organizational) to be applied to substance abuse prevention. Capacity also refers to readiness—the level of a community’s acceptance and support in directing resources to address specific problems, such as substance misuse or underage drinking.

  • Planning in SPF involves a review of the available assessment data about the problems and consequences; the consideration of what is known about risk and protective factors; and understanding of what can be changed and would make an impact. An optimal planning approach would use all this information in a priority setting process to review programs with evidence of effectiveness, and consider how programs would address risk or protective factors for particular target audiences.

  • Implementation may involve an adaptation of a program for local culture(s) and circumstances. It is important that evidence-based programs are delivered as intended and that the elements that made the program effective should be noted. 

  • Evaluation looks at whether prevention programs are actually creating the change that they hope to make. What outcomes were achieved? Evaluation also provides information about how programs can be improved.

Two core guiding principles—cultural competency and sustainability—are integrated within each step of the SPF. In other words, the SPF process intends to create prevention strategies that are effective, culturally relevant, and sustainable in communities after grant funding ends.

  • Cultural competency is the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures, and it helps to ensure that the needs of all community members are addressed.

  • Sustainability of prevention outcomes can be achieved by building stakeholder support for the program, sharing results, and obtaining steady funding. The ultimate goal is to sustain prevention outcomes and programs that produce positive outcomes.

Some distinctive focus areas of this SPF process include:

  • Outcome-based prevention: It is important to assess whether prevention programs are actually creating their desired changes.

  • Population-level change: Rather than only examining the changes instigated by individual programs, this framework also examines whether progress is being made in overall community levels of substance abuse prevention outcomes.

  • Data-driven decision-making: Communities using the SPF model use data to understand the extent and characteristics of substance abuse problems in their community; assess the tools and resources available to address those problems; choose prevention programs; and evaluate the success of those programs.

  • Cultural relevance: Prevention efforts should be relevant and meaningful within the cultural context of the community.

  • Collaboration: Community-level change requires intensive collaboration across different organizations, agencies, and individuals throughout the community. As prevention priorities change over time, it is important to know that partnerships across sectors will also evolve. Various key community members play an important role throughout the prevention process.


Orwin, R., Edwards, J., and Flewelling, R. (2014). Effects of the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentives Grant (SPF SIG) on State Prevention Infrastructure in 26 States. Journal of Primary Prevention, 35, 163-180.

SAMHSA. (2015, September 25). Applying the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). Retrieved from


June 2021

Jun 02 Wed
ADAD Zoom Training: Substance Use Disorder Ethics

Description: Attendees will become familiar with:

  • Introductions and networking
  • Discussion of “need of know” and relevance to field work
  • 12 Ethical Principles of CSAC Code of Ethics




Jun 04 Fri
Hawaii Training: “Ice," Cannabis Use Disorder, and the Opioid Crisis

Description: Upon completion of the presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least three statistical findings that validate the current surge of opioid, stimulant, and marijuana abuse in the US;
  • List and describe natural brain neurotransmitters that are mimicked or disrupted by the abuse of external substances;
  • Discuss the symptoms of stimulant, opioid, and cannabis use disorder and provide at least four symptoms of their withdrawal syndromes; and
  • Name currently employed and developing treatment strategies for opioid, stimulant, and cannabis dependence.





Jun 09 Wed
ADAD Zoom Training: Addressing Tobacco in Substance Use Settings

Description: Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the high rates of tobacco use in individuals with behavioral health issues, specifically substance users
  • Understand the medical, financial, occupational, and other consequences of tobacco use in individuals with addictions
  • Gain increased awareness about the need for integrated tobacco treatment within the behavioral health setting and the barriers which keep smokers with addictions from accessing tobacco treatment. (This can include staff who use tobacco or policies that allow for continued tobacco use in the treatment setting.)
  • Become familiar with tools for assessing tobacco use including carbon monoxide measurements, DSM criteria for tobacco use disorder and withdrawal syndromes, assessments of nicotine dependence and stages of change
  • Describe the rationale for treatment as effective methods for increasing the success of quit attempts




Jun 21 Mon
ADAD Zoom Training: Cyberbullying, Cyberstalking, Sexting and the Law

Upon completion of this workshop the clinician/staff/educators will have a clear understanding of:

  • All forms of CyberBullying, CyberStalking and the psychological impact on young people.
  • Sexting in context to teenagers and young adults in the 21st century and legal implications.
  • How parents, educators and clinicians can safeguard children, teenagers and young adults from Cyber-Abuse.
  • Medical, Psychological, Sociological and Behavioral impact on humans as a result of Cyber-Abuse.


Jun 25 Fri
ADAD Zoom Training: Working with Challenging Families

Description: This workshop is designed to incorporate the skills necessary to build better relationships with families who may be resistant or hesitant to services. Training will focus on assessing client strengths, reviewing various behavioral theories, approaches and techniques, and identifying strategies for addressing conflict in relationships.