Some of the most impactful companies and organizations are created by the very individuals who have had the same experiences they are helping others with. Found and Interventionist of Intervention 911, Ken Seeley, is a perfect example of this. Most famously known for his appearances on Intervention—a A&E reality show—as well as being dedicated to a life of sobriety since July 14th, 1989.
We were fortunate enough to connect with Ken and get more details about being what Intervention 911 is truly about and how sobriety has impacted his life.
Soberocity [S]: Do you have your own story of sobriety or have struggled with addiction yourself? Do you mind sharing that?
Ken [K]: Yes, I do. I love talking about my addictions, just in case it may help someone else that is struggling. I was using Crystal Meth—almost daily—for 4 years in the late 80’s. On July 14th, 1989, I went into treatment and have been sober ever since. I am still working a recovery program around my addiction to drugs and alcohol.
I also suffer from love, sex and money addiction. After 10 years of being off drugs, I became very depressed and suicidal. I surrendered to my “having” to make money to make me happy shortly after. My love and sex addiction continued until I was around 14 years clean off drugs and alcohol. I eventually went celibate, tired of the pain of relationships starting and ending. Soon, I found happiness in being single and surrendered to being ok with me loving myself and accepting that that would be enough. Then, I meet the man of my dreams and been with him since August 2004.
My latest addiction is to food and I struggle with this one. It is a daily battle, just like my other addictions were. I was able to surrender 150% to my other addictions, but I am having a problem with doing the same with food. 3 years ago, I successfully lost 50lbs by going to the gym for 2 hours, every day, and eating right; then, had major surgery to take off the extra skin; but I still struggled with food. Though I’ve controlled my eating, it still is hard for me to surrender it—I pray for it daily.
[S]: Are there any experiences/knowledge that you take from you or someone you know going through a sobriety journey that you utilize in Intervention 911?
[K]: Not really. What I experienced would be what we call a 12-step call; someone that calls you looking for help and you go talk to them and show them a path out of desperation.
Intervention 911 is a professional company that takes trained clinicians to conduct this service. They need to carry a credential in substance abuse and then be trained on top of that as a CIP, certified intervention professional, and CCMI, certified case manager interventionist. It’s a skill that takes a lot of work to narrow down on helping someone in denial and surrender into recovery. I still have to sharpen my skills on this and I have been doing it for over 20 years.
[S]: Is there anything that you would change or like to add to Intervention 911?
[K]: When we started intervention 911, it was just about getting the person to treatment. We learned that wasn’t the case. We were able to see that aftercare—when people leave treatment—is just as important and without it you aren’t really doing treatment. That is why at our treatment center EVERYONE is offered aftercare. We worked with The Joint Commission to get policy and procedures for these services and now some insurance pays for these services.
What I would like to add now is a way that every addict and every family member understands it takes the family around them to do the work also. The public still believes that the addict needs fixing, and they don’t. Studies show that this isn’t true, and the family system needs a treatment plan and we give all our people that come to us a treatment plan for a year after they leave. Everyone has a role; wish I could get a show around that to educate the families on this.
[S]: How many families would you say you’ve helped through the recovery process over the years? [just an estimate].
[K]: On the show—I think—is over 50, but then when you add the millions that have seen the show, I would say a lot more. People come up to me all the time saying that watching the show has helped them get sober or help a loved one get sober. Many people contact me to do an intervention in my private practice after seeing how it works in the show; they see what is possible for them and want it.
In my private practice for 20 years, I would have to say thousands of families have been helped, including myself and the team at intervention 911.
[S]: Why is it so important to get the family just as involved in the rehabilitation process as the participant?
The studies show that the success rate goes up 50% if the family is doing the work they need to do. For 30 days of treatment, the success rate is the same from when I went to treatment 30 years ago: 3-7%. If you help the family and give them a treatment plan, the success rate goes up an extra 50%; that’s a huge difference and that’s how important this is. That’s why we teach people how to give the family a treatment plan. It’s not just about education that most treatment centers give families during the “family program”; it’s about giving them tasks and goals to reach just like the identified person in treatment.
[S]: For a family member seeking to help their loved one reach sobriety, what is the first piece of advice you would give them?
[K]: Reach out to a professional. You need assistance doing this. Make sure they are certified in doing interventions and look up the credentials they say they have. This is a highly skilled profession and like I said I am still sharpening my skill set with 20 years under my belt. You want to make sure your interventionist is properly trained.
[S]: What are some healthy coping mechanisms that families can utilize for their loved ones who are going through recovering from an addiction?
[K]: Find someone to help them with a personalized treatment plan for THEM, not the loved one, but them. Again, make sure the person is trained to give families a treatment plan. It takes a case manager hours, working with the family system, to create this. Every family is different, so we do a family session that takes hours via Telehealth. Once we have all the information from all participates, we can come up with a plan. This isn’t a cookie cutter approach; it’s individualized for each person and family.
[S]: You mentioned following up with your participants and their families up to five years after they have completed their recovery journey—why are the follow-ups necessary? And do you believe your participants would strive without it?
Well, we see the success rate of staying sober is not very good after treatment. People still go because it gives them hope that they might be one of the lucky ones to make it this time.
With the 5-year plan, we have seen it work with the doctor diversion programs. Creating a motivator that is consistent for 5 years and giving them the support during that process is 78-85% successful. We need the family participation, the case manager—that I like to call a coach—and a lined-out treatment plan during this time. What treatment centers are doing isn’t working. The, Thank you for paying us. Here is your “discharge plan” best of luck, is not working. It is almost inhumane to expect someone to stay sober with that plan. They need the support of that coach to keep them on track and they need the family support after the family has their own individual treatment plan. The coach keeps up with everyone involved, so we all stay on track; just expecting someone to stay on track after 30 or even 90 days of treatment is cruel, and we see it not working over and over. Why not give them a coach to help with this process?
[S]: What are the next steps for Intervention 911? What do you see in this organization’s future?
[K]: The next steps for us is we want to help educate families at a national level Going out and doing public speaking, podcast and social media for everyone to hear this new way of treating the family system, not just the addict. Family system is a chosen family also. We like to say the chosen family are the first 3 rows of your wedding; who are these people? We want to help all of them; spreading this message is very important to us. Also, I don’t think many people know we have a treatment center in Palm Springs, CA that helps with detox and treatment, but like I said when coming to our treatment centers, the family all gets on a Telehealth session with the family advocate as soon as possible.
[S]: What’s the greatest reward that you’ve received by starting Intervention 911?
The best part I believe is that we never feel that we figured this out. We are always learning how to better serve the suffering.
When they say 25 million Americans are suffering with addiction issues, you add 2 or 3 people that love that person, that number now becomes 75-100 million Americans that affected by addiction.
When I am flying all over the country and people stop me and say thank you for helping me and my family it warms my heart; it makes me feel that our hard work fighting this battle has a little impact and we are helping families get back together and the healing process brings me so much comfort. The tireless hours of work are making a difference and saving lives is the best reward. If I can save one life, that’s amazing; but being able to save hundreds of thousands to millions is my goal with Intervention911.com and KenSeeleyRehab.com.
It is not simply that Ken Seeley remains sober, but that he takes the lessons he’s learned and experiences he’s developed over the last 20 years and uses it to help others, along with their families, have a healthy, safe and lasting journey of sobriety. With Intervention 911, he and his team are continuing to do incredible work and aid this population in a new and innovative way.