Ken Seeley Lecture Summary - Sovereign Health Group
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10-20-12 Category: Addiction Treatment

Our guest, Ken Seeley, immediately started with an exchange of questions and answers.

He first asked for signs of when an intervention is necessary.  Most people agreed that chronic relapses were a convincing symptom.  One counselor mentioned that if a person “gets well” too quickly, it is almost always too good to be true – that recovery is a long and difficult journey.  Seeley proceeded to talk about how families are the “meat and potatoes of interventions.”  According to him, families contribute just as much to dependence as does an addict.  They are often the emotional and financial fuel to the problem.  This is why educating and unifying families is crucial, as they themselves often need intervention.

The second question asked for characteristics of a perfect patient.  Captain Larry Smith, a staff member of Sovereign Health, is an Alcohol and Drug Counselor who specializes in helping airline pilots overcome addiction.  He said that the perfect patient is often a professional man with a lot to lose.  Because pilots are responsible for the lives of all of their passengers, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is logically strict on substance use.  According to Smith, addicted pilots complete a mandatory three-year program, which often spans longer.  If they fail to comply, their license is perpetually revoked and their careers are therefore quashed.  These men have everything to lose.  Smith reported that the program’s success rate is around 90%.  In general, everyone, including Seeley, agreed with Smith.  The prevalent opinion was that a perfect patient is someone with much to lose, whether a child, a spouse, or a commercial FAA license.  Seeley elaborated, stating that an addict often needs to hit a rock bottom in order to be willing to accept treatment and truly understand the severity of their situation.

According to him, this rock bottom is non-formulaic; it varies, based on the individual.  He introduced ‘H.E.L.P.S.’, a tool he and his colleagues at Intervention 911 use to try to identify it.  H.E.L.P.S. stands for Health, Environment, Legal, Personal Finance and Spiritual.

This first rock bottom is medical.  For example, if an alcoholic goes to a doctor and is told to stop drinking or otherwise risk death, this is often considered a rock bottom.  In this case, the person has a lot to lose ? namely, their life.  He or she should be willing to undergo treatment.

This rock bottom is emotional.  According to Seeley, this happens when the addict “feels the love in the room” and realizes how much their behavior is hurting their loved ones.  This is sometimes enough for a person to understand that they need help.  Their key motivation is to stop hurting their family and friends.

When legal ramifications are enforced, the addict faces empirical proof that they have a problem.  For many, jail, massive fines, divorce or loss of custody are clear rock bottoms.


Addiction can lead to financial crises ranging from job termination, eviction, foreclosure and even bankruptcy.

Many addicts lose faith, hope and peace in their lives.  Drugs eat away at their souls and some may face a spiritual epiphany.

Seeley continued by identifying when intervention is necessary.  He thinks that non-compliance, outlandish lies, sudden changes in behaviors, attitudes, achievements and attendance are all indicators.  As a professional interventionist, Kevin Seeley is required to be, as he put it, “the hammer”.  His goal is to push people towards their rock bottom; a point where they actually want treatment and are willing to fight strenuously for sobriety.

Seeley summarized his presentation by talking about the importance of case managers for addicts.  Case management is a vital tool for therapists and families and helps patients through the demanding recovery process.

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