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Step 4: Implementation

Implementation is where the rubber meets the road - where coalitions do what they’ve said they’re going to do. When implementing substance abuse prevention strategies, it is important to consider the following:

  • Action Plan Development: An action plan is a written document that lays out exactly how a coalition will implement the selected strategy. It describes what a coalition expects to accomplish, the specific steps they will take to get there, and who will be responsible for doing what. Action plans are often laid out in a table format and they serve to keep staff and coalition members on track and focused. The most effective action plans have achievable, short-term deliverables with agreed-upon dates for accomplishments. When coalition members see their accomplishments as part of a road map to success, they will be more committed and motivated to continue their work. Further, when they feel accountable, they understand the importance of their role to the success of the project.

  • Fidelity and Adaptation: Fidelity refers to the degree to which a strategy or program is implemented as its original developer intended. Adaptation refers to how much, and in what ways, a strategy or program is changed to fit local circumstances. When a strategy is implemented with fidelity, it increases the likelihood of effectiveness. However, adaptation can make a strategy more responsive to a target population and can increase its cultural sensitivity and its fit within the implementation setting. Documenting any adaptations to the strategy throughout the implementation phase is important. The rationale for adaptations and the precise changes that were made to the strategy need to be described and monitored as part of your evaluation; always check with your technical assistance specialist before adapting an evidence-informed strategy or program.

  • Check Strategy Fit: Throughout the implementation phase, the logic model must be used to check the conceptual and practical fit of strategies considered for the strategic plan. The logic model identifies points of intervention and helps plan for prevention strategies based on the best available evidence. The logic model can also be used to periodically check on strategies’ appropriateness to the community and cultural contexts. This is key, because if the strategy does not fit the community’s capacity, then the community is unlikely to implement the strategy effectively.

More Resources

Strategies for Working with the Media (PDF, 283KB)
Effective Messaging for Substance Abuse Prevention (PDF, 278KB)
Effective Media Campaigns to Prevent Rx (PDF, 472KB)
Media Campaigns to Prevent Rx and Opioid Misuse (PDF, 106KB)
Messenger Matters (PDF, 65KB)
A Blueprint for Advancing & Sustaining CLAS Policy & Practice (PDF, 1,299KB)
Using Social Media to Facilitate Collaboration (PDF, 284KB)
Keeping Collaboration Healthy (PDF, 182KB)


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