INTERVENTION: THE JOHNSON MODEL
When Vernon Johnson wrote I’ll Quit Tomorrow in 1973, and Intervention: How to Help
Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help in 1986, his radical ideas were met with resistance
from many groups. One such group included advocates of the peer-topeer recovery
method, which was based on the belief that only after hitting bottom could one decide to
escape their substance misuse (and possible death). The Johnson Model works around the
idea that one needs to “raise the bottom” by getting those who are misusing substances to
agree to go to treatment, or to be treated before they hit rock bottom on their own. Hitting
one’s lowest point in terms of their substance abuse or misuse is often dangerous, and can
be life-threatening. By “raising the bottom”, countless lives can be saved, and precious
time can be gained and consequently, put towards recovery.
This idea of “raising the bottom,” was truly improved upon by Dr. Judith Landau with her
introduction of the family systems more invitational model of intervention. Her “ARISE”
method is described as “a collaborative, non-confrontational approach to guiding addicts
into recovery. Broadly speaking, the researched and known models of intervention are
distinguished by their traits, goals, timeframes, and how invitational the approach is.
The Johnson Model is built upon 7 components:
1. Team Effort – This “team” is a support system brought together by an interventionist
that can include family, close friends, loved ones, colleagues, as well as anyone else
important in the addict’s life.
2. Planning – The “team” decides on when and where the intervention will be held, and
what is going to be addressed and said in their letters.
3. Care-Centered – This is vital to the success of the intervention. There should never
be yelling, blaming or threatening of the addict. Everything should be coming from a
place of care and concern.
4. Focus – During the process, it is important to stay on topic. The only