The Study


There is a pressing need for new approaches to support adolescent mental health in Canada.

The PreVenture program is an evidence-based prevention program that uses personality targeted interventions to promote mental health and delay substance use among teens. PreVenture workshops are designed to help students learn useful coping skills, set long term goals and channel their personality towards achieving them.

PreVenture has proven remarkably effective in reducing alcohol and illicit drug use and mental health symptoms by a notable 30-80%, among high-risk secondary students in multiple published randomized trials. While the PreVenture program has been shown to be effective in supporting mental health and reducing most substance use behaviours, it has yet to be evaluated for its impact on uptake of prescription drug misuse in adolescents.

Aim & Design

The CUSP Trial aims to evaluate the long-term effects of the PreVenture program on supporting mental health and delaying the onset of drug and alcohol use in adolescence.

This cluster randomized controlled trial involves four sites: a coordinating site in Quebec and three study sites in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. The three sites will each recruit nine high schools randomized. Students from grade 10 enrolled in these schools in 2019, 2020 and 2021 will be invited to participate, resulting in approximately 4050 students across 27 schools each year, a total of 12,150 students over three years. Eligible students (approximately 45%) at each school will be invited to attend two PreVenture workshops.

To accelerate evidence needed to increase scale-up of this effective program this study will involve both an Effectiveness trial and an Implementation Facilitation trial. Firstly, the study will test the effectiveness of PreVenture when disseminated through a Train-the-Trainer implementation model. Consenting grade 10 students will be assessed on measures of past 12-month substance use onset as well as severity of use. Secondly, to address questions about program sustainability and scale-up, the study will apply state-of-the-art methods in implementation science to examine a novel Implementation Facilitation component to support effective and sustained delivery of PreVenture.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015 
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada.   Retrieved from
  3. Ulan, S., Davison, C., & Perron, M. (2013). First do no harm: Responding to Canada’s prescription drug crisis. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
  4. Pradip et al. Associations of Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use and Initiation of Heroin Use in the US. Center for behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Data Review. SAMHSA (2013) 
  5. Mahu IT, Doucet C, O'Leary‐Barrett M, Conrod PJ. Can cannabis use be prevented by targeting personality risk in schools? Twenty‐four‐month outcome of the adventure trial on cannabis use: a cluster‐randomized controlled trial. Addiction. 2015;110:1625-33
  6. Conrod, P. J., Stewart, S. H., Comeau, M. N., & Maclean, M. (2006). Efficacy of cognitive behavioral interventions targeting personality risk factors for youth alcohol misuse. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 550-563.
  7. Conrod, P. J., Castellanos, N., & Mackie, C. (2008). Personality-targeted interventions delay the growth of adolescent drinking and binge drinking. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 49, 181-190.
  8. Conrod, P. J., Castellanos-Ryan, N., & Strang, J. (2010). Brief, personality-targeted coping skills interventions and survival as a non-drug user over a 2-year period during adolescence. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67, 85-93.
  9. Watt, M Stewart, S Birch, C., Bernier, D. (2008). Brief CBT for high anxiety sensitivity decreases drinking problems, relief alcohol outcome expectancies, and conformity drinking motives: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Mental Health 15 (6), 683-695.
  10. Conrod, P. J., O’Leary-Barrrett, M., Newton, N., Topper, L., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Mackie, C., & Girard, A. (2013). Effectiveness of a selective, personality-targeted prevention program for adolescent alcohol use and misuse: A cluster randomized controlled trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 334-342
  11. O'Leary-Barrett M, Topper L, Al-Khudhairy N, Pihl RO, Castellanos-Ryan N, Mackie CJ, *Conrod PJ. Two-year impact of personality-targeted, teacher-delivered interventions on youth internalizing and externalizing problems: a cluster-randomized trial. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;52(9):911-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2013.05.020. PubMed PMID: 23972693
  12. Newton NC, Conrod PJ, Slade T, Carragher N, Champion KE, Barrett EL, Kelly EV, Nair NK, Stapinski L, Teesson M. The long-term effectiveness of a selective, personality-targeted prevention program in reducing alcohol use and related harms: a cluster randomized controlled trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 19. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12558.