Addiction Intervention: What is the Johnson Method?

Upon hearing the word intervention, you might envision television shows. A hefty dose of lies and denial, the addict in question “hitting bottom,” and of course, lots of shouting and crying among family members commonly ensue in a carefully packaged 43-minute viewing adventure.

While these ingredients may be part of a great recipe for compelling television that effectively capitalizes on the opioid crisis in the United States, they don’t necessarily depict the reality or level of detail that go into most interventions for alcohol or drug addiction.

When it comes to holding a real intervention for someone you love, theatrics are not the goal. You want your loved one to recognize their problem, go into treatment, and get on the path to recovery. Understanding how to support your loved one is key for the ravaging disease of addiction to stop haunting your lives and for your family to stop living in fear. So what is the best way to achieve it?


The Johnson Method

There are several intervention methods practiced today. The most well known and traditional was developed in the 70s by an Episcopal priest named Vernon Johnson; thus, it is known as the Johnson Method. It outlines seven central components:

  • Team: The intervention team is carefully developed, including friends and family of the addict.
  • Plan: The time and detailed process of the intervention is determined.
  • Care: An intervention is conducted to help the individual. This is very important and should be clearly conveyed to the person. Blaming or arguing should never become the focus.
  • Addiction only: Addiction is the reason for the intervention, and the discussion should reflect that. Any faults unrelated to the addiction should not be brought into the conversation.
  • Evidence: Information brought forth in the intervention should be factual. Proof for statements should be given. Subjective information, by contrast, can potentially be denied or disputed much more easily by the person.
  • Not punitive: Treatment is the agreed-upon end goal. Treatment is not to punish the person, but to help them. During the intervention, this should be made very clear.
  • Treatment options: A few options for treatment are provided to the person with addiction so they can make their own choice.

In more recent years, the Johnson Method has received somewhat of a reputation of being less effective than other, newer models. This is likely because according to statistics, less than half of families end up choosing to actually go through with holding the intervention after initially seeking assistance from a specialist.

The Johnson Method is also known as a confrontational type of intervention because typically the loved one does not know about the event before it happens. Due to this very direct intervention model, the Johnson Method is reportedly suited for individuals who do not think they have a problem with addiction and who are unlikely to seek help on their own. Many know, however, that this quite commonly fits the description of a someone with substance use disorder or addiction.

Determining Your Intervention Plan

In determining the “best” intervention type for you and your family, an important component likely should include not just research and planning, but finding a professional who knows what they are doing in order to not risk making a bad situation worse. Working with a caring intervention specialist who is mindful of your unique situation and needs can ensure that your intervention not only happens more or less as planned but serves as the best possible chance for your loved one to get the treatment they need.

Need an intervention in the Philadelphia area? Seeking addiction treatment doesn’t have to be a hardship during an already difficult time. Addiction365 is available to help you or your loved one get their life back.

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The struggle against addiction to any substance is never an easy battle, but you can overcome it with the right intervention service tailored to your needs.