What Happens in the Johnson Model of Intervention?

Last Updated: September 25, 2023

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that roughly 18.7 million Americans had a substance use disorder in 2017. This is about 7.6 percent of the population, which is a meaningful figure if someone you care about deals with drug or alcohol misuse.

When most people picture an intervention, they envision a confrontation by loved ones like they see on television, which culminates in the enrollment in an addiction treatment program. While this is a form of approaching someone about their substance misuse, there are many successful intervention models. One that has always been popular is called the Johnson Model.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you are not alone and help is available. Call (888) 613-0276 to speak to a recovery advocate and learn more about your treatment options.

What Is the Johnson Model of Intervention?

The Johnson Model most closely resembles what many people imagine when picturing an intervention. It involves loved ones intervening with the person who misuses drugs or alcohol. The goal of this intervention model is to achieve a safe and meaningful resolution.

The model was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Vernon Johnson, a priest who was in recovery from alcoholism. Johnson had experienced his own struggles with getting sober and disagreed with the idea that a person needed to hit “rock bottom” before agreeing to pursue recovery. Instead, he believed that a safer bottom could be presented by loved ones through an intervention process.

Johnson came to the conclusion that this type of intervention would work by studying the circumstances of 200 people in recovery. What he discovered was that most sought recovery due to small life-altering events that involved relationships or an illness caused by addiction. Instead of waiting for these things to happen, the intervention presents them as consequences of continued use.

The Components of a Johnson Intervention

Johnson saw the value in loved ones participating in the intervention process, not to blame but rather to let the person misusing substances know that they care. This type of intervention is broken down into seven components:

  1. Team. The intervention team includes the professional interventionist, family members and other friends or loved ones
  2. Planning. The intervention must be carefully planned as to time, place and what will be said by each person
  3. Focus on Care. The focus on the intervention must always be on the loved one’s well-being instead of coming from a place of condemnation or blame
  4. Substance Use Only. Everyone involved should focus only on issues related to substance misuse
  5. Evidence. There must always be details or proof provided when speaking about the way substance use has impacted the lives of loved ones
  6. Treatment as Goal. The goal of the intervention should be to have the loved one agree to attend addiction treatment to help improve their lives
  7. Options for Treatment. Ideally, the team will give the loved one several options for treatment so they feel as if there are still some options in their control

There remains some controversy surrounding the Johnson Method as some believe that confrontation has the potential to turn a person away from treatment. However, studies show that this method, when compared to four others, has the highest referral rate for addiction treatment.

If someone you love has a substance use disorder, contact Orlando Recovery Center now to learn more about addiction treatment programs and get answers to your questions.

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