family drug intervention

Family Drug Intervention at Narconon

It is useful to first define what a drug intervention is and to establish what is common across the board in both of the following two models of intervention. Drug intervention is the process of stopping a chemically dependent person from continuing to use their drug of choice, despite negative consequences. In the AOD field drug intervention has come to mean to motivate an individual to enter treatment, who is currently unwilling to do so.

Models of Intervention

There are two concurrent and sometimes overlapping models of intervention which dominate the mainstream opinions of Intervention specialists in AOD care today. One (The Johnson Model) demands the breaking of an ingrained and seemingly impenetrable system of denial and the other (Motivational Interviewing) states that denial is peripheral to the central issues.

The Johnson Model of Intervention

Vernon Johnson, founder of the Johnson Model of Intervention, based his work on the idea that forceful confrontation is necessary to penetrate the barriers and defenses of the denial system inherent in individuals with AOD problems. The interventionist may attempt to break through this denial system by dramatic, emotionally charged and dynamic means. The interventionist typically uses the family and peers that are close to the individual in a confrontational meeting to show the individual the damage they have caused and hopefully in the process illicit the realization that the person must take action before it is too late. It is this "raising of the bottom" concurrent with a belief that all people with AOD problems have a strong sytem of denial that marks the Johnson techniques and what is meant to be accomplished by it's processes.

"It is a myth that alcoholics have some spontaneous insight and then seek treatment. Victims of this disease do not submit to treatment out of spontaneous insight - typically, in our experience they come to their recognition scenes through a buildup of crises that crash through their almost impenetrable defense systems. They are forced to seek help; and when they don't, they perish miserably."

- Vernon Johnson. from I'll Quit Tommorow, 1973.

Motivational Interviewing

Later, after the Johnson Institute had long been the established authority on interventions, a more research oriented approach came to be. William Miller and co-author Stephen Rollnick released their book, Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior in 1991 and set out to acknowledge that clients may not be readily open to such direct techniques favored by the Johnson school of intervention.

Miller and Rollnick had challenged the viewpoint that all AODA clients had an inherent "system of denial" that was a major barrier to treatment. Miller and Rollnick proposed that confrontational techniques elicited a normal reaction of denial and labeled such as abnormal and symptomatic of a chemical dependency issue. Therefore, they set out the idea that it is the behavior of the counselor that is antecendent to resistance and denial in the client.

What Miller and Rollnick instead proposed was a methodological approach that looked at stages of change in the client and in determining the specific desire or willingness of a client to change, thereby prescribing the counselors appropriate course of action. Where clients in the action stages would respond well to confrontation, those that are merely contemplating the idea that they have a problem, or are wholly unaware will react with resistance and become unamenable to any attempts to treat the AOD problem. The main point of motivational interviewing is that "client resistance is a therapist problem"; not a client problem. The point of view then is that professionals must change their behavior according to that of the client.

When Is The Right Time For An Intervention?

This is perhaps the most often asked and the most often unanswered question that families and peers have when confronted by a loved one with an addiction problem. The best answer is as soon as an AODA problem has been identified. Through consultation with a treatment professional or intervention specialist and within a relatively short period of time, you and the person interviewing you will know whether or not intervention is neccesary. The truth is that most cases do not require a full intervention. Intervention can be a great asset to getting someone the help they desperately need, however done without the advisement of a treatment professional or intervention specialist can lead to ambivalence and resistance in the AODA client.

If you feel that someone you love may need an intervention, or you would like to speak to someone about an addiction problem, feel free to contact a qualified Narconon counselor by calling us at (800) 874-3197.