Johnson Model of Intervention

Johnson model of intervention
Last Edited: February 14, 2020

Reisto Belovich

Clinically Reviewed
Jim Brown, CDCA

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Seeing someone you love struggle with an addiction is hard on everyone.

Developed in the 1960s, The Johnson Model is considered to be one of first intervention models utilized in our society. Designed by Dr. Vernon Johnson, this model is designed to educate the addicted person’s caregiver so that the incredible burden that is on his or her shoulders can be lightened. The caregiver will also be educated on what’s best for the addicted person without aiding in his/her addiction. The strategy of this model of intervention is not only to compel the addicted person to embrace treatment, but also to help the caregiver draw boundaries for him/herself.

Components of The Johnson Intervention

Within the Johnson Intervention Model, there are several elements that need to work in conjunction with one another in order to have better chances of encouraging someone with a substance use disorder to pursue recovery.

  1. Team: Generally, a team is put together by a counselor who is oriented in intervention procedures or a professional interventionist. It will nearly always consist of family members, friends, loved ones, colleagues or employers.
  2. Planning: This element consists of organizing other parts of the interventions (such as the time-frame of the intervention, as well as the exact content of what will be discussed and said from the letters that each team member writes).
  3. Focused on Care: This element is crucial regarding consistent sensitivity throughout the entire intervention, never yelling or taking an accusatory stance.
  4. Addiction Only: During the Intervention, the addiction itself should be the only topic discussed.
  5. Evidence: Team members conducting the intervention must demonstrate concrete evidence or proof in the written letters. All past situations regarding the addiction should be described in substantial detail.
  6. Primary Goal-Treatment: The team performing the intervention must come into an agreement that the end result will include the addicted individual pursuing treatment after the intervention is over. This process of going into a rehabilitation center should not be viewed or portrayed as a punishment, but instead it should be viewed as a means of helping the addict achieve recovery.
  7. Treatment Options: Generally, each successful intervention will result in the individual pursuing recovery. For optimum results, team members should present at least three different options regarding treatment.

Who Is Dr. Vernon Johnson?

Vernon Johnson was originally an Episcopal priest, born in 1920. He was immensely interested in studying the nature of addiction, as well as procedures in stopping it. Johnson’s main goal to prevent deaths that were directly caused by addiction. In his studies of over two hundred alcoholics, he began to question the motivations behind an addict’s ability to quit using. From his research, he was able to discern five conclusions regarding addiction, as well as quitting:

  1. There was never a single changing event that caused one to quit.
  2. Most factors preceding abstinence consisted of small and non-lethal events involving loved ones as a result of the addiction.
  3. Pursuing sobriety is a forced decision that is made because of several relatively smaller events.
  4. When sobriety isn’t pursued, the smaller events often collide relatively quickly and induce death.
  5. An effectively designed plan could possibly help an addict to see the consequences of his/her actions if sobriety is not pursued.

The synopsis here appears to be very simple and straightforward. The reality is that snags are hovering around every corner. Even if the addicted person’s team of caregivers approaches the intervention with the deepest love and support, he/she may not see it that way. Other snags could occur that would’ve been impossible to predict. Throughout the intervention process, it is important that the support system (team of caregivers) remains positive and uses the approach of suggesting options to the addicted person.

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