Dr. Vernon Johnson saw the value that family and loved ones could bring to interventions and developed The Johnson Intervention in the 1970s. This model provided new ways to approach individuals suffering from addiction. Instead of blaming or possibly belittling the addicted individual, Dr. Johnson encouraged caring as the priority of the intervention.
He asked family members to confront addicted individuals with letters explaining how much they love and care for them. These letters often involved lists of consequences that would happen if the addicted individual did not seek treatment.
The main goal of this type of intervention is to confront the addicted individual by motivating them to change their lifestyle, not only for their own good, but for the good of the family as a whole.
In some cases, a professional interventionist may coach family members on how to confront their addicted loved ones in a clear, non-judgmental way.
The Seven Components Of The Johnson Model
There are seven components that Dr. Johnson outlines as necessary in order to perform a Johnson Intervention.
These seven components include:
- A team: Sometimes referred to as the “treatment team,” which may consist of family members, colleagues, loved ones, and close friends. In most cases, the team is led by a professional health counselor.
- Planning: In this phase, the location and time of the intervention will be set. The counselor will also assist family members in planning what they wish to say to the addicted individual.
- Focus on care: The most important of the seven components, as without it the Johnson Model falls apart. From start to finish, the intervention should be a space of love and encouragement, not blame and shame.
- Addiction Only: During the intervention process, the only issue that should be discussed is the issue of addiction. Past mistakes should be left out of the conversation and the focus should remain on the present.
- Evidence: When planning an intervention, it is important to provide evidence of a problem that can be presented to the addicted individual. Any past events should be detailed in a letter that describes the way addiction has negatively affected the addicted individual’s life.
- Primary Goal—Treatment: the result of the intervention must be the goal of coercing the addicted individual to seek treatment. Treatment should never be discussed as a punishment, but rather as a way to improve the addicted individual’s quality of life.
- Treatment options: The ideal situation would be that each person suffering from addiction seeks treatment by the end of each intervention. For this to happen, the treatment team should put together a few options for treatment so the addicted individual still feels they have choices.
How To Prepare A Johnson Model Intervention
Preparing for a Johnson Intervention often involves a professional interventionist instructing the primary caregiver on how to prepare for the meeting with the addicted person. The interventionist will then go over topics, such as enabling, with the treatment team.
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During this preparation time, the interventionist teaches members of the treatment team effective ways to communicate their feelings with their addicted loved one. For the Johnson Model to function properly all communication must have the common goal of encouraging enrollment in a treatment program.
In some cases, family members may have to inform addicted individuals of newly-formed boundaries. A family member may state that if the addicted individual doesn’t seek help they will no longer allow them to stay in the home or they will not be able to provide transportation anymore.
Once the person suffering from addiction is no longer enabled, the likelihood of enrolling in treatment increases. However, this kind of confrontation does have the potential to push individuals past their emotional breaking point in hopes that they will accept help. While it is confrontational, it is also very successful.
It has been found that confronting individuals struggling with addiction is best done at a location where they feel comfortable and not anxious. The Johnson Model often breaks through any illusions the addicted individual may have.
Although the person suffering from addiction may seek help, it may not happen right away. It is important that family members remain strong in their resolution to stop enabling their loved one so the person is able to move on and seek help.
How Effective Is The Johnson Model?
The research outcomes for the Johnson Model proved more successful compared to the three other intervention types, according to a retrospective study conducted on a sample of 331 cases drawn from an alcohol and drug treatment agency.
The individuals who had undergone the Johnson Intervention were more likely to enter treatment than the individuals who had received any other type of intervention. The individuals who had gone through a Johnson Intervention were also more likely to complete treatment than those in the other three groups.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information also reports that peer support from individuals with similar conditions and circumstances do help individuals achieve long-term recovery from alcohol addiction or other drug-related problems. While these groups do not replace the need for formal treatment, they still offer additional support and benefits to individuals recovering from substance use disorders (SUD).
Potential Outcomes Of A Johnson Model Intervention
Like all interventions, there are only two outcomes for the Johnson Model —success or failure. The Johnson Model stresses the importance of boundaries within the family unit so that people who are not yet ready to ask for help should not be discouraged.
There is also help available to family members, and this may influence the addicted individual to seek treatment. During a crisis, one of the hardest things to do is set hard and fast boundaries, but it can be best for all involved.
People suffering from addiction aren’t always receptive to this kind of confrontation and may become defensive or try to leave. If this happens, it is best not to chase after them as this could further alienate them. Most of the time people just need a chance to calm down and accept the information being presented to them.
While The American Psychological Association reports that 70 percent of families who attempt a Johnson Intervention do not follow through with it, 75 percent of those that do follow through will succeed in getting their loved one enrolled in treatment.
Who Can Benefit From Intervention?
The Johnson Model is one of the more common drug and alcohol interventions because it is easily applied to many different types of people in different situations. Many families consider intervening on their loved one’s behalf to voice concerns about the impact of addiction on their loved one, but many do not know how to complete the process.
Many people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction resist treatment because they fear facing painful withdrawal symptoms or simply cannot give up substance use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 24.5 percent of individuals who didn’t seek help for their addiction claimed it was because they were not ready yet. The Johnson Model may be able to provide them with the encouragement they need to face their problem.
To find out more about drug and alcohol addiction intervention and treatment, contact us today.