Coventure is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded research project, conducted by a team from the Research Center of CHU Sainte-Justine in collaboration with the Université de Montréal.

The CO-VENTURE project provides a unique opportunity to examine the beneficial effects of early intervention (PREVENTURE programme) on cognitive development and future addiction.



The methodology for the program was first developed in Nova Scotia, Canada from 1997 to 2000. The original program was implemented in 2001 within the context of rural and urban Canada (Nova Scotia and Vancouver) through a randomized control trial (RCT) in high schools. Approximately 300 high risk high school students received interventions. From 2004-2006 a second RCT in the UK delivered UK edition interventions to approximately 710 high risk youth living in the greater London area. A third RCT delivered interventions to approximately 1200 high risk youth attending high schools in urban and suburban areas of London, UK. Another trial conducted in special educational units for children who had been excluded from mainstream high schools in London was conducted from 2005-2008 and delivered interventions to approximately 52 high risk children. During 2003-2004 a culturally grounded adaptation of the original program methodology was created with collaboration among Mi’kmaq First Nations communities in Nova Scotia, Canada. First Nations and Inuit communities in three Canadian provinces participated in a feasibility study wich included the production of culturally diverse program manuals from 2005-2010. Other cultural adaptations have been completed and are currently under evaluation in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Australia and Montréal, Canada.

Research Team

Research team

Principal investigator

Patricia CONROD, is a Registered Clinical Psychologist with the Ordres des Psychologues du Québec, Associate Professor in Psychiatry, Université de Montréal and Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Addictions Department, King’s College London. She is based at the CHU Sainte-Justine Mother and Child Hospital Centre in Montreal. Her research focuses on cognitive, personality and biological risk factors for the development and maintenance of drug abuse and the factors that mediate the co-occurrence of addictive behaviours with other mental disorders. Her experimental research focuses on factors that make people more susceptible to seek out behavioral reinforcement from drugs of abuse. More recently, her research findings have led to the development of new approaches to substance abuse treatment and prevention that target personality risk factors and the underlying motivational determinants of drug use in subtypes of substance misusers. Dr. Conrod was a member of the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee (2005-2010) and Associate Editor of Current Reviews in Drug Abuse. She is consultant to the UN and the European Commission on guidelines for drug and alcohol prevention and has published extensively on this issue.

The team is completed by the following researchers:

Sherry STEWART , Ph.D., is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, as well as a licenced clinical psychologist in the province of Nova Scotia. She is well known for her research on psychological factors contributing to alcohol abuse, pathological gambling, and the comorbidity of mental health and addictive disorders. Dr. Stewart holds a Governor-in-Council appointment with the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse, and is Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Gambling Issues. Dr. Stewart receives funding from several research agencies including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation, and the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.

Jean SÉGUIN, Ph.D. Professor, Department of psychiatry, Université of Montréal.
Dr Séguin’s research explores the cognitive and emotional aspects of mental health and also studies risk factors for alcoholism and hypertension. His clinical training in cognitive models allows him to work on cognitive schemes and scripts as well as on information processing models and underlying brain function. His doctoral thesis (McGill University, 1995) focused on the neuropsychology of physical aggression. Further work broadened his interest in aggression to include hyperactivity and other forms of externalising behaviour problems. A longitudinal study beginning at birth examines the development of externalising disorders and other self-regulation issues in young children through a cognitive development perspective. One of the main hypotheses of this work is that many externalising problems are not so much the result of a learning process but of a failure to learn self-regulation. Dr Séguin’s research interest aims to understand the physiological, genetic and environmental underpinnings of this failure. Are these problems due to perinatal events, parenting failures, cognitive and neuropsychological limitations, difficult behaviour which requires greater effort to regulate, or a combination of these reasons? In which contexts are difficulties likely to occur? What is the specific link between self-regulation impairments and behaviour problems? Could early interventions designed to support parents of at-risk children have an impact on children’s self-regulation development?

Robert PIHL, Professor, Department of Psychology, McGill University.
Prof. Pihl’s research coalesces around the perspective that differential susceptibility/etiology for a mental disorder is a function of variability in different motivational systems. Work is ongoing in four areas, a developmental study of a birth cohort of twins, investigations of populations at risk for drug abuse, the assessment of drug effects, and clinical interventions with drug abusing populations.

Jordan PETERSON, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. He has a strong record in computerised assessment of personality, general cognition and executive functions. He will oversee maintenance of the data acquisition platform in this trial.

Benoit MÂSSE, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Montréal. He is based at Unité de recherche de Clinique Appliquée (URCA), at CHU Ste-Justine. He is an experienced biostatistician with strengths in quantitative methods and clinical trials designs. He will oversee all the statistical aspects of this trial, including data monitoring and analyses.

International projects

International projects

Today, Preventure interests various researchers around the world and is linked with several international studies.

The Neuro-Coventure Project: Effects of delaying binge drinking on adolescent brain development: Neuroimaging measures to see whether an evidence-based alcohol prevention can produce observable protective effects on brain development.

The Psy-Venture project: a survey investigating the effects of a personality-targeted intervention programme on adolescents with psychiatric disorders in Montréal, QC, Canada.

The Imagen project: a European research project on risk taking behaviour in teenagers.

The Cap-Study: An australian survey implementing and evaluating a comprehensive school-based substance use prevention intervention.

The Chi-Venture project: a trial investigating the effects of delaying the onset of substance use on adolescent cognitive development and academic performance in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Chi-venture Project Description



Conrod, P. J., O’Leary-Barrett , M., Newton , N., Topper , L., Castellanos-Ryan , N., Mackie , C. & Girard, A. (2012) A cluster randomized trial demonstrates the effectiveness of a selective, personality-targeted prevention program for adolescent alcohol misuse. Archives of General Psychiatry.

Nees, F., Tzschoppe, J., Patrick, C. J., Vollstädt-Klein, S., Steiner, S., Poustka, L., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G. J., Büchel, C., Conrod, P. J., Garavan, H., Heinz, A., Gallinat, J., Lathrop. M., Mann, K., Artiges, E., Paus, T., Poline, J. B., Robbins, T. W., Rietschel, M., Smolka, M. N., Spanagel, R., Struve, M., Loth, E., Schumann, G., & Flor, H. (2012). Determination of Early Alcohol Use In Healthy Adolescents: The Differential Contribution of Neuroimaging and Psychological Factors. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(4), 986-995.

Castonguay-Jolin, L.  Eveline Perrier-Ménard, Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, Sophie Parent, Frank Vitaro, Richard E. Tremblay, Patricia Garel, Jean R. Séguin Patricia J. Conrod(2013). Validation de la traduction française de la SURPS pour une population d’adolescents québécois. CanJPsychiatry, 58(9), 538-545.

O’Leary-Barrett,M., Topper,L., Al-Khudhairy, N., Pihl,R.O., Castellanos-Ryan, N.,Mackie,C.J., Conrod, P.J., (2013).

Two-Year Impact of Personality-Targeted, Teacher-Delivered Interventions on Youth Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: A Cluster-Randomized Trial.JAACA,52 (9), 911-920.

Castonguay-Jolin, L. et al., (2013). Validation de la traduction française de la SURPS pour une population d’adolescents québécois. CanJPsychiatry, 58(9), 538-545.

Two-Year Impact of Personality-Targeted, Teacher-Delivered Interventions on Youth Internalizing and Externalizing Problems. Article 

Mental health approach works better than information at preventing problem drinking in teenagers. Article

Découverte d’un profil neuronal associé à la consommation de drogues. Udem Nouvelles. Article

Conrod PJ, Castellanos-Ryan N, Mackie C (2011). Long-term effects of a personality-targeted intervention to reduce alcohol use in adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2011 Jun;79(3):296-306. PMID: 21500886

Newton NC, O’Leary-Barrett M, Conrod PJ. Adolescent Substance Misuse: Neurobiology and Evidence Based Interventions. Current Topics in Behavioural Neuroscience. 2011 Nov 5. PMID: 22057622

Conrod P, Castellanos-Ryan N, Strang J, Brief, personality-targeted coping skills interventions and survival as a non-drug user over a 2-year period during adolescence. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2010 85-93.

O’Leary-Barrett M, Mackie CJ, Castellanos-Ryan N, Al-Khudhairy N, Conrod P, Personality-targeted interventions delay uptake of drinking and decrease risk of alcohol-related problems when delivered by teachers. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2010 954-963.e1.

Conrod, P.J., Mackie, C., & Castellanos, N. (2008). Personality-targeted interventions delay the adolescent onset of drinking and binge drinking. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(2), 181-190.

Sully, L., & Conrod, P.J., (2006). An innovative approach to the prevention of substance misuse, emotional problems, and risky behaviour in adolescents. Education and Health, 24(3), 39-41.

Schumann G, Loth E, Banaschewski T, Barbot A, Barker G, Buchel C, Conrod P, Dalley JW, Flor H, Gallinat J, Garavan H, Heinz A, Itterman B, Lathrop GM, Mallik C, Mann K, Martinot J-L, Paus T, Poline J-B, Robbins TW, Rietschell M, Reed L, Smolka M, Spanagel R, Claudia S, Stephens D, Strohle A, Struve M, and the IMAGEN consortium, The IMAGEN study: reinforcement related behaviour in normal brain function and psychopathology. Mol Psychiatry 2010 1128-1139.

Castellanos-Ryan, N, O’Leary-Barrett, M, Lassiter, A-M, Sully, L, & Conrod, PJ. (in press). Psychometric properties and diagnostic value of the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.Whelan, R., Conrod, P., Poline, J-B., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G.J., Bellgrove, M.A., Büchel, C., Byrne, M., Cummins, T., Fauth-Bühler, M., Flor, H., Gallinat J., Heinz, A., Ittermann, B., Lourdusamy, A., Mann, K., Martinot, J-L., Lalor, E.C., Lathrop, M., Loth, E., Paus, T., Rietschel, M., Smolka, M.N., Spanagel, R., Stephens, D., Struve, M., Thyreau, B., Vollstaedt-Klein, S., Robbins, T.W., Schumann, G., & Garavan, H. and the IMAGEN consortium. (2012). Adolescent impulsivity phenotypes characterized by distinct brain networks. Nature Neuroscience.

Newton NC, O’Leary-Barrett M, Conrod PJ. Adolescent Substance Misuse: Neurobiology and Evidence Based Interventions. Current Topics in Behavioural Neuroscience. 2011 Nov 5.
PMID: 22057622

Schneider S, Peters J, Bromberg U, Brassen S, Miedl SF, Banaschewski T, Barker GJ, Conrod P, Flor H, Garavan H, Heinz A, Ittermann B, Lathrop M, Loth E, Mann K, Martinot JL, Nees F, Paus T, Rietschel M, Robbins TW, Smolka MN, Spanagel R, Ströhle A, Struve M, Schumann G, Büchel C; the IMAGEN Consortium. Risk Taking and the Adolescent Reward System: A Potential Common Link to Substance Abuse. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2011 Sep 28. PMID: 21955931

Conrod PJ, Castellanos-Ryan N, Mackie C (2011). Long-term effects of a personality-targeted intervention to reduce alcohol use in adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2011 Jun;79(3):296-306. PMID: 21500886

Castellanos-Ryan N, Conrod PJ (2011). Personality correlates of the common and unique variance across conduct disorder and substance misuse symptoms in adolescence.
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2011 May;39(4):563-76. PMID: 21181434

Barrowclough C, Haddock G, Wykes T, Beardmore R, Conrod P, Craig T, Davies L, Dunn G, Eisner E, Lewis S, Moring J, Steel C, Tarrier N.(2011). Integrated motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy for people with psychosis and comorbid substance misuse: randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal. 2010 Nov 24;341:c6325. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6325. PMID: 21106618

O’Leary-Barrett, M., Mackie, C.J., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Al-Khudhairy, N., Conrod, P.J. (2010). Personality-targeted interventions delay uptake of drinking and decrease risk of alcohol-related problems when delivered by teachers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010;49(9):954-963.

Conrod, P.J., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Strang, J. (2010). Brief, personality-targeted coping skills interventions prolong survival as a non-drug user over a two-year period during adolescence. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(1):85-93

Invited Addresses

Conrod, P.J. New, Targeted Approaches to Youth Drug and Alcohol Prevention: Long-term and population-level effects of personality-targeted interventions for adolescent substance misuse. Plenary address at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, Issues of Substance, November 2011.

Conrod, P.J. Une nouvelle approche de prévention de l’abus d’alcool et de drogues en ciblant les facteurs de risque pour les troubles mentaux et du comportement. Assemblé annuelle du RISQ, Fév 2011.

Conrod, P.J. Long-term and motivation specific preventative effects of personality-targeted interventions for adolescent substance misuse. CIHR Lost in Translation Conference, February, 2011, Vancouver, BC.

Conrod, P.J. Universal and targeted approaches to school-based alcohol and drug prevention: what we
know and where we are going? Canada – Finland – US Joint Workshop on “The Early Origins of Addiction” Toronto, October 17 & 18, 2011 (Toronto Hilton).

Conrod, P.J., (2009). Targeting vulnerable youth in drug and alcohol prevention. Plenary Address, Jubileumconferentie 10 jaar Resultaten Scoren bij Verslaving, The Netherlands, November 2009.

Conrod, P.J., (2009). Targeting vulnerable youth in drug and alcohol prevention. Royal Society, London, October, 2009.

Conrod, P.J., (2008). Effectiveness and characteristics of evidence-based targeted interventions for drug dependence intervention and prevention. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). December, 16-18, 2008, Vienna, Austria.