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What Is the Johnson Model of Intervention?

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What Is the Johnson Model of Intervention?

March 28, 2019
Johnson model

If you have seen drug and alcohol interventions depicted on movies or TV shows, you know an intervention is an opportunity for the loved ones of someone with a substance misuse disorder to confront the addicted person with the goal of convincing them they need to get help to achieve sobriety. However, if media depictions are your only familiarity with interventions, you may not realize there are different intervention models and various approaches to structuring the conversation to ensure it succeeds.

Professional drug and alcohol intervention specialists have many tools at their disposal to help the family members and close friends of a person with a substance misuse disorder orchestrate an intervention that is customized to your unique needs and group dynamic. If you hire an intervention specialist, they should be familiar with various methods of intervention and be able to suggest the best one – or a combination thereof – to get results.

The Johnson Model

The Johnson model is one of the most common forms of intervention, and it is named for its founder, Dr. Vernon Johnson. Having studied a group of recovering alcoholics to learn what motivated them to quit drinking, Johnson realized most of them made their decision after experiencing a series of small, but significant, life events.

Johnson determined addicts need the people they care about most to help them see what the consequences could be if they don’t seek sobriety, and that requires a well-defined and thought-out plan. He outlined his findings in his seminal 1973 book, I’ll Quit Tomorrow.

Johnson pioneered an approach to intervention in which family members and other loved ones place an emphasis on how much they care for the addict, as well as all the negative things that could happen to them if they don’t enter recovery. Many addicts believe they must hit rock bottom before they’ll accept help. The Johnson style of intervention helps accelerate that process, rather than waiting for the addict to ruin their life by experiencing events like bankruptcy or jail time.

Though the Johnson model is highly effective for many situations, it is often best for addicts who do not see themselves as having a problem, and do not realize how severely their disease is affecting the people who care about them most. People with co-occurring mental health disorders are also good candidates for this style of intervention.

Having Difficult Conversations

The goal of the Johnson model is never to make the addict feel ashamed of their behavior. Instead, family members clearly articulate what they will do if their loved one refuses to accept treatment, and emphasize that they are doing this from a place of concern, compassion and love.

Addiction is a family disease that hurts not only the addict, but everyone around them. Though it may be difficult for you to be this brutally honest with someone you care about – and even more difficult for them to hear – it is essential to share the truth about how their substance abuse has damaged your relationship.

During a Johnson intervention, the role of a professional interventionist is not to make an inspiring speech that completely changes your loved one’s attitude toward accepting help. Instead, the interventionist is there as a neutral third party to guide the conversation and keep things moving in a positive direction.

Contact Intervention 911 to Learn More

If you feel as if someone you care about has lost control of their lives due to a drug or alcohol addiction, let the Intervention 911 team help you turn things around by empowering you to plan a coordinated intervention. Stop letting your loved one’s substance misuse make you feel powerless. Reach out today for the tools you need to get started.

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