What Is the Johnson Intervention and Should I Use It for My Loved One?

What Is the Johnson Intervention and Should I Use It for My Loved One?

An intervention is when you confront a loved one about how their substance use has affected you and everyone they love. Many families choose to have an intervention when a loved one’s substance use has become destructive or addictive.

The goal of an intervention is to persuade a person to start a treatment program for their addiction while expressing your love and concern for them.

There are various intervention strategies you can use. One of the most common is called the Johnson Intervention. No matter which method you choose, holding an intervention can be scary and uncomfortable for everyone involved.

What Is the Johnson Intervention?

A Johnson Intervention or the Johnson Model is seen as an “old school” method of intervention and is usually what you see if someone stages an intervention in a movie or TV show.

With a Johnson Intervention, the person with the addiction is not involved in any part of the planning. The person is surprised and confronted at the final meeting. The thinking behind this is that it does not give them a chance to refuse to go to the meeting.

The Johnson Intervention method can feel overwhelming and confrontational for the affected person. At the meeting, the people in attendance talk about how the person’s addiction has affected their lives. They also lay out a plan for treatment and usually present ultimatums if the treatment is not accepted. For example, a parent might say their child cannot live with them anymore unless they accept the treatment plan.

Other Types of Interventions

Along with the Johnson Model, there are two other main types of interventions.

Invitational Intervention

Viewed as a less aggressive intervention method than the Johnson Model, an invitational intervention includes the affected person in the process. Instead of being surprised by a confrontational meeting, they are invited to join a series of meetings that include other loved ones and an interventionist. The goal is to end the meetings with an agreement for treatment. A Relational Intervention Sequence of Engagement, or ARISE, model is a common example of an invitational intervention.

Family Systemic Intervention

Another less aggressive type of intervention is a family systemic intervention. This type of intervention includes the entire family and focuses on educating everyone about the dangers of substance use and addiction.

Instead of focusing only on the person with the addiction, family systemic interventions help to care for the whole family. They focus on improving communication, problem-solving, and fostering sobriety for everyone.

Do Interventions Work?

Holding an intervention is becoming somewhat more controversial, especially when it is confrontational. There is no clear evidence that they are effective. They can sometimes lead to more problems with the intervention subject feeling judged and attacked. It can also be a traumatic experience that could lead to more substance use.

In an interview with Men’s Health magazine, Dr. Sarah Reagan, a clinical psychologist with a specialty in alcohol addiction, said, “If you’re looking for long-term rehab or recovery, you want motivation to come from inside of the person…not…out of guilt or just to keep other folks from being mad.”

However, some individuals may need that shock of awareness to see the problems their addiction is causing. You can hold an intervention for a variety of addictions including:

  • Alcohol use
  • Illicit drug use
  • Prescription drug use
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Compulsive eating

If you do decide to hold an intervention for a loved one, make sure you have a clear plan of action, form a team, choose the consequences of not seeking treatment, and talk to and include treatment specialists. It is also critical to stay calm during the intervention. Excessive crying or yelling may be counterproductive.

Are you or a loved one looking for more support through addiction recovery? Our sober living facility at Ethos Recovery may offer the support you need. Contact us today to learn more about our community-centered program.