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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... that may be why you are on this site. 

The Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) provides a process to follow that will increase your chances of success in being more effective and making an impact to help prevent substance use and its consequences.

How can we tell if our prevention programs are addressing the ‘right’ issues?

How can we tell if our goals are being met?

The Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) is a five-step planning process that gives communities the needed tools to help prevention providers utilize a data-driven planning process to guide prevention decisions in selecting appropriate evidence-based strategies with the participation of diverse community partners to address the complex social issue of substance abuse. The SPF is a national public health initiative sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA). Its goal is to prevent substance abuse and its consequences. SPF has evolved from what we have learned from previous initiatives in the prevention field. It focuses on the risk and protective factors of prevention, selection of evidence-based interventions, and measuring outcomes. It relies on using data-driven planning to allocate resources, and 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 a problem and the needs in a community related to it. It also refers to finding out about the 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 (fiscal, human, and organizational) to be applied to substance abuse prevention. Capacity also refers to readiness—the level of acceptance and support of a community to direct resources to address a specific problem, such as substance use or underage drinking.
  • Planning in SPF involves a review of the available assessment data about the problem and consequences, to consider what is known about the risk factors and the protective factors and what can be changed and would make an impact. An optimal planning process would then use all this information in a priority setting process, to review programs with evidence of effectiveness, and consider how a program will address a risk or protective factor and for what target audiences.
  • Implementation may involve possible adaptation of a program for local culture(s) and circumstances.  Fidelity to what made an evidence-based program effective is important when carrying out a program.
  • Evaluation llooks at whether our prevention programs are actually creating the change that we are hoping to make. What outcomes are achieved? Evaluation also provides information on how our programs can be improved

Two core components—cultural competency and sustainability—are integrated within each step of the SPF. In other words, the SPF process intends to lead to the creation of prevention strategies that are effective, culturally relevant, and sustainable in communities after grant funding has ended.

  • Cultural competency is the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures, helps to ensure the needs of all community members are addressed.
  • Sustainability of prevention outcomes can be achieved by building stakeholder support for the program, showing and 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 our prevention programs are actually creating the 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, to assess the tools and resources available to address those problems, to choose prevention programs, and to 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

January 2021

Jan 13 Wed
ADAD Zoom Training: Ethics

The purpose of the session is to gain an understanding of ethical guidelines in an advanced setting. Participants will be better equipped to resolve ethical dilemmas in Substance abuse and Mental Health field. This will be beneficial for those that have already completed Ethic’s the Basic.



Jan 15 Fri
ADAD Zoom Training: Helping with Emotional Intelligence

This training will provide an overview of using emotional intelligence in the helping profession. Participants will learn the:

  • Definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how it differs from Intelligence (IQ)
  • Understanding Emotional Intelligence with young adults (developmental perspective)
  • Introduction to Daniel Goleman’s Competency Module
  • Strategies to improve personal and professional life using Emotional Intelligence
  • Action Steps helping professionals take to encourage empathy
  • Activities that promote Emotional Intelligence


Jan 29 Fri
ADAD Zoom Training: Family Dynamics

The purpose of this training is to introduce Family Systems Theories. The presenter will discuss various approaches, skills and techniques used in effectively working with families (dual parent household, single parent, traditional and non-traditional parenting). Participants will be introduced to various tools and skills and be able to identify valuable characteristics to effectively help families. This is an interactive training.