Common Models of Drug and Alcohol
Addiction Intervention


Common Models of Drug and Alcohol Addiction InterventionDrug and alcohol interventions come in several forms that mental health professionals tailor to the individual. The type of intervention that your medical professional selects will depend on your unique experience with addiction. Learn the most common models of drug and alcohol intervention and which one might be the right fit for your loved one.

The Johnson Model of Intervention


The Johnson Model of InterventionThe Johnson Model of Intervention was coined by a pioneer in the industry in the 1960s. Vernon Johnson, who earned the nickname, “the father of intervention,” believed addicts built up walls of denial so impenetrable that they could only be broken down when confronted with the crises addiction created in their lives. This is perhaps the most recognizable form of intervention, in which a family, guided by an interventionist, confronts an addicted individual without their prior knowledge of the meeting.

How the Theory Works

The Johnson Model is grounded in the assumption that addicts cannot see how their substance abuse negatively affects them and those around them. It also assumes that these individuals will remain in denial until they hit rock bottom. It’s important to realize this is not the result of stubbornness, but rather an elaborate defense mechanism that the brain creates to justify their addiction. The aim of a Johnson Intervention is to encourage addicts to agree to treatment before they hit rock bottom on their own, which can be life-threatening. The timing of the intervention is referred to as “raising the bottom.”

If a family chooses to pursue a Johnson Model intervention, they should get in touch with an interventionist who will guide them throughout the process. An addict’s close friends and family members will prepare for the intervention by learning about addiction as a disease. They must also consider how the addict’s drug abuse has affected their life. They will also come up with a list of potential treatment options. A family prepares for an intervention without the addicted person’s knowledge or approval.

What Happens During an Intervention?

A member of the intervention team will arrange for the addict to meet at a specified location, where the confrontation will begin. During the course of the intervention, friends and family will present a detailed account of an addict’s behavior and the negative consequences associated with that behavior. While this is referred to as a confrontation, members of the intervention must present the facts in an objective, nonjudgmental manner. The ultimate goal of the intervention is to present the reality of the affected person’s addiction in a way he or she can accept. When done successfully, an addict can accept help and decide on a course of treatment.

In the Johnson Model, an addict’s loved ones form the foundation of the intervention. These interventions are rooted in caring and compassion, not malice or accusation. A proper intervention encourages affected individuals to seek treatment not only for themselves, but for the network of loved ones who surround them.

Invitational Model of Intervention

Invitational Model of Intervention

Developed by Ed Speare and Wayne Raiter, this method of intervention is also referred to as the Systemic Family Intervention Model. This model also takes a family-oriented approach rather than focusing solely on the addicts. The theory of the invitational model is rooted in the idea that, if the system of addiction changes, so will every individual within that system, including the addict.

How the Invitational Model Works

In a systemic family intervention, an entire family or support network is invited to come to a two-day workshop led by an interventionist. Throughout the course of the workshop, the addict and the family are coached on the disease of addiction, including its pathology and how it affects a family. Specifically, an interventionist helps the support network understand the concept of enabling and how it affects the addict and the family as a whole. Each family member must understand the role that he or she plays so everyone can begin the road to recovery as a unit. When every family member is committed to healing, the hope is that the addict will accept help and begin his or her journey to sobriety.

An invitational intervention begins when a concerned member of a family contacts an interventionist about a loved one with a substance abuse problem. Once they make plans for a workshop, a designated member of the family is coached on how to invite the addict to participate. Once the entire family system is at the workshop, they learn about different treatment options for the addict.

Treatment and Follow-Up

Ideally, an addict will agree to seek treatment at the conclusion of the workshop, which is often multidisciplinary in nature. An interventionist using an invitational model will usually follow up with the family for up to a year. The main difference between the invitational model and others is it’s not confrontational in nature and it recognizes the family’s role in aiding and effectively treating addiction.

Field Model of Intervention

Field Model of Intervention

Jane Mintz is a former professional golfer who became an interventionist after successfully winning her own battle with alcohol abuse. A competitive high-achiever by nature, Mintz studied every intervention model and addiction process in painstaking detail. In response to her years of research, she developed her own model, the Field Model of Intervention. Unlike other intervention models, the Field model does not replace other models. Rather, it is complementary.

How the Field Model Works

The field model is based on the Johnson model, so it has many of the same properties. The reason the Field model is complementary is because it specifically prepares the interventionist for handling crises during the intervention process and after. For example, Field model interventionists are trained to assess suicide risk or predict potential for violence. Using the field model can be especially beneficial for those families who believe an addict is a danger to themselves not just because of their addiction, but also because of co-morbid conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Bringing Families Together for Interventions

Mintz likens families of addicts to herds that aren’t always moving in the same direction. Addicts often look to the strays of the herd to enable their addiction. When all family members are moving in the same direction, it’s easier for the addict to realize the depth of their addiction and its negative consequences. Part of the field model is educating families and helping them realize when they’re part of the problem – and how they can be part of the solution.

Family Systemic Model

The family systemic model of intervention is often referred to as the invitational model, though the two methods do have minor distinctions. While a classic intervention involves a confrontation without prior knowledge of the addict, the family systemic model is completely different. In a family model, the addict comes to all planned meetings with the interventionist, including the first one. Instead of a one-way conversation in which family members discuss how one person’s addiction has negatively affected their lives, the family unit has a collaborative discussion about how addiction, as a disease, has affected the family unit.

Time Frame

The biggest difference between an invitational model and a family systemic model is the time frame for intervention. While an invitational intervention usually concludes with a two-day immersive workshop and periodic follow-up, a family systemic intervention can last for months at a time. Meetings can be several times a week or until the family decides on an appropriate treatment plan to which the addicted individual agrees. In the end, the addict and the family unit agree to counseling. An addict will seek treatment and then join the family later for group therapy. In essence, the family commits to rehabilitation together.

Deciding How Best to Approach Someone You Love Who Is Suffering from Addiction Can Be Overwhelming, But We Can Help!

Family First Intervention

Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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