Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Strategic Prevention Framework Components


The assessment phase helps define the problem or the issue that a project needs to tackle. This phase involves the collection of data to:

  • Understand a population's needs
  • Review the resources that are required and available
  • Identify the readiness of the community to address prevention needs and service gaps.

To gather the necessary data, States and communities will create an epidemiological workgroup. The data gathered from this workgroup is vital because it will greatly influence a program's strategic plan and funding decisions.


Capacity building involves mobilizing human, organizational, and financial resources to meet project goals. Training and education to promote readiness are also critical aspects of building capacity. SAMHSA provides extensive training and technical assistance (TA) to fill readiness gaps and facilitate the adoption of science-based prevention policies, programs, and practices.


Planning involves the creation of a comprehensive plan with goals, objectives, and strategies aimed at meeting the substance abuse prevention needs of the community. During this phase, organizations select logic models and evidence-based policies and programs. They also determine costs and resources needed for effective implementation.


The implementation phase of the SPF process is focused on carrying out the various components of the prevention plan, as well as identifying and overcoming any potential barriers. During program implementation, organizations detail the evidence-based policies and practices that need to be undertaken, develop specific timelines, and decide on ongoing program evaluation needs.


Evaluation helps organizations recognize what they have done well and what areas need improvement. The process of evaluation involves measuring the impact of programs and practices to understand their effectiveness and any need for change. Evaluation efforts therefore greatly influence the future planning of a program. It can also impact sustainability, because evaluation can show sponsors that resources are being used wisely.

An image of the Strategic Prevention Framework: Assessment, Capacity, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation.  Sustainability and Cultural Competence are included throughout the framework.
Throughout all five steps, implementers of the SPF must address issues of sustainability and cultural competence.


Sustainability refers to the process through which a prevention system becomes a norm and is integrated into ongoing operations. Sustainability is vital to ensuring that prevention values and processes are firmly established, that partnerships are strengthened, and that financial and other resources are secured over the long term.

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is the process of communicating with audiences from diverse geographic, ethnic, racial, cultural, economic, social, and linguistic backgrounds. Becoming culturally competent is a dynamic process that requires cultural knowledge and skill development at all service levels, including policymaking, administration, and practice.

For more information on the Strategic Prevention Framework, please visit  


Last updated: 11/4/2011

Did You Know

image of percent sign

If effective prevention programs were implemented nationwide, substance abuse initiation would decline for 1.5 million youth and be delayed for 2 years on average, reducing subsequent problems later in life.

SOURCE: Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars & Cents: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

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