In the 1960′s there was an Episcopal priest who was interested in studying addiction as well as a way to stop it. The main concern of this priest was to prevent death by addiction. Vernon Johnson was the Episcopal priest who made it his life goal to help all addicts achieve sobriety. In order to find the right method or methods, he studied 200 recovering alcoholics.
The main question behind his study of the 200 recovering alcoholics was, “What made them want to quit drinking?” By studying the recovering alcoholic, he found the following results:
The well-defined plan that Dr. Vernon Johnson created was written in a book called “I’ll Quit Tomorrow” in 1973.
Dr. Vernon Johnson saw the value in family and loved ones being used in an intervention. During the 1970s, this was something new and very unconventional compared to other Intervention methods. Instead of family members “ganging up” on the addict and blaming them for hurtful feelings as well as memories, Dr. Johnson encouraged caring as the priority. He asked the family members to confront the addict with letters that focused on how much they care for the addict. He had the family members write letters to the addict giving them a list of consequences if sobriety or rehab was not sought out.
The main purpose behind the Johnson Method is to confront the addict by motivating and encouraging them to change their lifestyle for the good of not only themselves, but for the good of the family around them. Dr. Johnson wanted the addict to be confronted but in a way that their defenses would be low. He recognized that the addict’s defenses are already raised when they are confronted in a surprise way. To continue to throw blame and insult would only cause the addict to break down and ultimately stop listening. The idea of sobriety is no longer an option because their defenses are so high that nothing will convince them to change their mind.
There are seven components of the Johnson Method that Dr. Johnson outlines not only in his book but also in his Intervention Practice. The seven components are as follows:
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