The SAFE Solutions Platform

SAFE Solutions is a free, user-driven platform that serves as a functional collection of research, educational materials, and promising practices that can be tailored and support strategic response efforts to substance use disorders.

The SAFE Solutions platform is beneficial in multiple ways, but particularly helps community leaders build capacity. You can:

  • Easily access information using a single entry point;
  • Identify tools to strengthen existing response efforts;
  • Explore policy changes to amplify your efforts;
  • Use the information to more easily apply for grants and expand your funding base;
  • Trust, yet verify, validity through cited sources and a robust subject matter expert network; Confidently know the information being accessed is creditable because it links to citations and is vetted by reputable subject matter experts in the field;
  • Share knowledge of what has worked well with peers across the nation for replication purposes;
  • Reach out to SAFE Project for additional support if needed; and
  • Collectively come together with other communities to save more lives.

If you are a community who is just starting out, please check out our Community Playbook which serves as a high-level blueprint for leading local response efforts.

The SAFE Solutions platform is a product of SAFE Project, a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization committed to overcoming the addiction epidemic in the United States. You may navigate to SAFE Solutions directly by visiting For more information about SAFE Project, please visit

Why Outcomes are Critical To Community Response Efforts

An outcome is what you and your community are seeking to achieve. The searchable outcomes on the SAFE Solutions platform are as follows:

  • Reduction in long-term effects and death for those affected by SUD,
  • Increased resources available for response efforts,
  • Reduction in community stigma,
  • Increase in educational opportunities and basic economic security for all,
  • Increase in safe, stable, and affordable housing opportunities,
  • A community where people can achieve their optimal level of health and wellbeing, and
  • Increase in social and community connections.

The outcomes identified on this platform, and ultimately many of the solutions contained within them, align closely with the social determinants of health.

By understanding the conditions that impact people’s health and well-being, communities can tailor their response efforts to more effectively serve their residents and improve overall quality of life. When you search by outcome, the platform will display a mix of solutions (or strategies, interchangeably) across the continuum of care that communities can implement toward that selected outcome. For example, solutions that reduce the unlawful diversion of drugs may lead to safer communities with reduced crime rates. Lower crime rates encourage  healthy local economies, as they attract businesses that bring jobs to the area so people are able to achieve economic security.

Communities are encouraged to utilize this platform using the outcomes section. Effective and sustainable approaches to reducing substance use disorder and mental health harm and prevalence require significant collaboration. These strategies must enlist the expertise and data from each sector impacted by these issues, their causes, and their effects. All stakeholders must see how their lens and a multi-pronged approach advances a community towards achieving their projected outcome. The design of the outcomes section on the SAFE Solutions platform is intended to help communities break down existing siloes and achieve successful collaboration. While working on your response efforts, try to stretch and think in terms of scale. Just as an eagle has the ability to soar in the sky and see small objects on the ground, we’re asking communities to “zoom out.”

Outcomes Measurement

When you set a SMART goal (or series of goals) that work towards your intended outcome, you’ll want to make a plan to measure it. Why do you want to measure it? To know you are making an impact, and to have tangible results that you can  publicize..

Data collection, analysis, and reporting are critical components to strengthening a community’s response to drug misuse and SUD. By sharing and regularly monitoring data, communities can build credibility, raise awareness and political will, share knowledge, identify more effective interventions and strategies, guide decision making, and allow for better budgeting and allocation of funds. Ultimately, if you aren’t making progress towards your intended goal, ongoing evaluation is critical for making informed changes and preventing   unintended consequences.

Effectively, community leaders should identify a mixture of measures that demonstrate impact on their goal(s). These indicators may be collected across multiple agencies and organizations within your area. Please note that even if organizations are measuring the same data point, it doesn’t mean their collection or determination for what makes up that data point is the same. It is important to explore that on a deeper level.

Just as every community has different demographics, assets, funding, politics, geographies, and economies, every community’s goals for SUD response will vary. The availability of data will also vary by community, but some examples of indicators tied to your goal could include:

  • Reduction in the number of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) births
  • Reduction in alcohol and drug related crimes
  • Reduction in rates of lung cancer per 100k
  • Reduction in the number of people living below poverty
  • Reduction in number of uninsured adults
  • Increase in age of first use/initiation of drug use
  • Reduction in the number of renters spending 30% or more of household income on rent

An Overview of the Continuum of Care

Created by the National Research Council in 1994, the IOM Continuum of Care refers to the full spectrum of services necessary to address substance use disorders.

Prevention: Refers to strategies that are delivered prior to the onset of substance use disorder and intended to prevent or reduce risk and to enhance protective factors. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the National Prevention Strategy was developed to move our nation’s health efforts from a reactive system, which focuses on providing sick care, to a proactive one of wellness and prevention.

Early Intervention: Strategies that address mild substance misuse. The intention is to engage individuals into reducing harms associated with use and to provide screening to determine if treatment is needed.

Harm Reduction: Strategies that minimize the impacts of drug use and drug-related harms. For more information and the principles of harm reduction, please visit the National Harm Reduction Coalition.

Treatment: In-patient or out-patient services for individuals with a SUD diagnosis that includes assessment, the development of a treatment plan, implementation of the treatment plan, evaluation, case management, extended care and monitoring. Programs vary in length and intensity, and they may include approaches like medical stabilization/detox, counseling and behavioral healthcare, and rehabilitation services.

Recovery: Services that support individuals in their long-term well-being with a goal to prevent recurrence/relapse.

Systems Building: While not part of the traditional IOM Continuum of Care model, systems building strategies allow communities to build big picture vision and address underlying values and change the source of conditions. This may include strategies that support your broader work, such as building public awareness and momentum around your movement, broadening  and engaging your coalition, supporting advocacy efforts, applying data performance approaches, and leading policy change.

Ideally, communities should implement systems building strategies in conjunction with other strategies along the Continuum of Care. For more information on systems thinking, please read, “Systems Thinking for Social Change,” by David Peter Stroh.

Continuum of Care Integration

One of SAFE Project’s goals is to support communities in breaking down silos by fostering greater collaboration between the numerous fields of work engaged in addressing the effects of overdose and substance use.

To that end, we created Bridging Prevention and Recovery Program: A Community Approach to Systems Change and are actively engaged in promoting work across the full Continuum of Care. An example of our approach is in reframing the SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to a Strategic Prevention and Recovery Framework (SPRF). The SPF model has informed prevention science for decades and includes five phases of Assessment, Capacity-Building, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation. SAFE Project’s shift in the framework incorporates a recovery focus and builds in skill-building around leadership, health equity, sustainability, advocacy, and communication.

Similarly, every one of the strategies contained in the SAFE Solutions archive is intended to elevate community leadership and strengthen communication by presenting key information — succinctly. Health equity and sustainability are advanced in each strategy by offering tools and resources associated with the specific subject of that strategy. Likewise, all of the articles in SAFE Solutions have policy and promising practices sections to prioritize and support advocacy efforts.

Readers of SAFE Solutions strategies are encouraged to enhance their awareness of the breadth of issues communities face by reading each of the six overview articles. These correspond to our six strategy menus within the Continuum of Care (Prevention, Early Intervention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Recovery) and include an overview on System Building.

Our Subject Matter Expert Network 

SAFE Solutions is dynamic, expandable, and regularly maintained and updated with new, cutting-edge information as it unfolds. Through SAFE Solutions, our SAFE Project staff work alongside a team of volunteer, multidisciplinary subject matter experts with professional knowledge and experience in the field to bring communities the best and most recently released information, data, promising practices, and resources.

How Solutions Are Compiled 

This crisis cannot be resolved alone. Together, we can save more lives. This is why we link to vetted resources that have been developed by experts in the field. We do not want to “reinvent the wheel”. We want to help community leaders easily find solutions compiled in one place that is easy to find and accessible.

Every solution on the platform follows a similar outline. First, users are welcomed by an introductory paragraph offering high-level background information on the topic followed by a section containing Key Information, which is a deeper dive into the subject area. The Relevant Research section contains information about recent findings, reports, and data on that particular topic. Then, the Impactful Federal, State, and Local Policies section provides an overview of any laws, regulations, and policies that are a potential barrier or improvement to the effectiveness of that strategy, which may be replicable across states. The Tools and Resources section links to frameworks, models, fact sheets, infographics, toolkits, and more that can help community leaders further their efforts on this particular solution. And finally, there is a Promising Practice section that highlights state, regional, and community efforts that have demonstrated success.

I Need More Help

If you need help navigating the SAFE Solutions platform, please click here to view instructions.

SAFE Project provides tailored technical assistance to communities along with training and programs that fill gaps for professionals and community leaders leading local response efforts. If you’d like community technical assistance from SAFE Project on any of the solutions, please complete this form.

If you possess knowledge in a particular topic area aligned with one of the strategies and would like to contribute to this platform, please email for information on how to join our subject matter expert network.

Finally, our individual efforts when done together can create large change. Please freely share this resource with your colleagues, community partners, coalitions, regions, state level representatives, and other stakeholders who may find this platform useful in their response efforts.