Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I caught last night's episode of Intervention with the story of Marquel, an exercise addict and alcoholic. Although there have been a number of episodes on eating disorders on Intervention, there were a few unique aspects I appreciated about this one: 1) The show represented a minority. I know they have in the past, I just don't recall any with eating disorders but perhaps I'm wrong here. 2) The individual refused treatment despite all the actions of her family and friends. I don't think this has happened in many episodes, but I haven't been watching Intervention on a regular basis lately. I remember a few episodes of people having huge lash-outs or escaping the premise, but all eventually went to treatment. With Marquel, she suspected the intervention and flat out refused, walking away and not speaking to her family and friends for 4 1//2 months as of this date.

A brief synopsis of Marquel: Marquel is a 30 year old Hispanic woman with two young children and a roommate in South Beach Florida. She was an elementary school teacher after college for several years but is now a fitness instructor. Her family feels she is an exercise addict, but Marquel does not, viewing exercise as "therapeutic:" She questions her exercise addiction (up to many hours per day) but does not feel like it has taken over her life.

Marquel also has a history of bulimia and alcoholism with symptoms of restriction and amenorrhea. On several occasions, she has passed out, been hospitalized for alcoholic poisoning, and was pulled over for a DUI and hit and run. Marquel does not view her alcoholism as a problem but says as many addicts do she has control over it and "I can stop drinking when I feel like it, I just never feel like it."

Growing up Marquel's family was a typical close-knit Hispanic family. When Marquel was 15 years old, her mother died of breast cancer which was very difficult for her, feeling like she never got a chance to mourn her death. Her father began dating soon after which was also hard on Marquel, wanting his affection.

When Marquel moved a way to college in FL, that was when her heavy binge drinking appeared. She found love, got married, and had two children. She presented herself as a "perfect" mom, but eventually that took its toll. She began to party, consume a high amount of alcohol, and neglect her kids. Five months ago, she separated from her husband and moved to South Beach with her children and began as a fitness instructor.

Marquel's entire family is very concerned for her and especially worried about her children. When the family tried the intervention, Marquel suspiciously picked up on it (possibly by her roommate who her family felt like enabled Marquel) and walked out, chased by her father who desperately tried to convince her to get help. She eventually agrees to come back to talk to her family which was not very productive. In the end, despite what everyone thought, Marquel did not agree to go to treatment.

As I said before, I liked the fact that this episode featured a Hispanic individual struggling with addictons and an eating disorder. In recent years, there has been an increase in Hispanics with eating disorders, making researchers realize they are not immune as once thought with better body image and different cultural expectations. And I have to admit that I don't think it is helpful that many live in South Beach which adheres to a similar lifestyle of "lookism" as Los Angelos.

In terms of treatment, it is obvious that Marquel needs help. She is at risk of hurting herself, others, and her kids. But like most addicts, will she have a rock bottom, will she get tired of the lifestyle she is living, tired of missing her kids enough to stop, or the lack of communication with her family? I think whenever many of us watch this show, we always hope that the individual will decide willingly to go to treatment. In many of the shows, it seems like it takes just a few minutes of tears, and then they decide to go (we really don't know how long this takes due to editing). But in reality, unless there is absolutely no other option, it usually takes awhile and with multiple attempts. Everyone is different when it comes to treatment and when they decide to get help. We hope that when they do decide, it is not too late.

I'll be interested to see whether Intervention will do a follow up story if Marquel does decide to enter treatment.

Related posts on Intervention:
Sonia and Julia


Kim said...

I saw last night's episode too and thought it was really interesting. I hope they do a follow-up. Like they said, I think something will happen that will drive her to get help. That's the hope...

I Hate to Weight said...

i don't watch Intervention because it would remind me too much of my own past.

i did have to lose everything and scare the life out of myself to get treatment. and then it took a full year for it to take -- i kept relapsing.

it sucks having multiple addictions. and i haven't yet found the place that expertly handles Eds and substance abuse. i went for drugs and alcohol and thought they were pretty dumb about EDs. maybe eating disorders rehabs do better with drugs and alcohol? that i don't know.

i didn't know what i was going to write when i started typing here. while i was reading your post, i didn't realize how much it reminded me of me.

Cammy said...

I watched it, and have seen pretty much all the Intervention episodes, but this is the first I can remember where someone flat out refused treatment (although it's not infrequent for them to leave treatment before finishing).

It was definitely sad, but I was glad they were at least able to help the family cope and handle the situation as well as possible given the circumstances.

I wish that Intervention wouldn't use numbers sometimes (in this case I have the calories in mind), although I don't think they were counting calories from her drinking binges. But I guess they do need to get the point across about how extreme her behaviors were, with the exercise + restricting, so I can see both sides of the numbers issue here.

Telstaar said...

Hey chick,

I don't have much to say, but I just wanted to say that I'm here and reading :).

We don't get "intervention" here so I"ve never seen it, but I do appreciate that it would be very useful having different races and ethnicities on the show, especially around exercise and eating disorders as I think it helps to show that its not simply a "middle-upper class causian females" illness!


Tiptoe said...

Cammy, yes, the numbers bit bothered me too, and I agree her drinking binges were omitted.

Telstarr, I'm almost surprised that Intervention has not spread out to different areas yet. I wonder if it will? You can view episodes online at the link I posted if you want to see an episode.

I Hate to Weight, it is harder with multiple addictions, and of course there are differences in treating substance abuse and EDs. And I think some people do better with a model for substance abuse in recovery from EDs while others do not at all.

Kim, I agree, it will be interesting to see if she will be driven to get treatment.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah they were really "minorities", give me a break. If they were Greek instead of Cuban, nobody would have thought to call them minorities. Hispanic does not automatically mean brown!

Anonymous said...

Hispanic doesn't mean brown, but you don't have to be brown to be a minority... Marquel & her family are still a minority.

Anonymous said...

Stop playing the minority card. She grew up better than most who are not minorities. Eating disorder? They kept mentioning that but never really talked about it. Drinking Binges? Didn't see much of that either? There are many college students that binge drink and end up with alcohol poisoning. Give me a break! She is a BRAT that wants attention! I watch Intervention all the time and have to say this was the worst one I have seen.

Weight Loss Supplements said...

When an addict has a system that is working, there is no reason to go to treatment in their head. They have to reach rock bottom first.

MissAnthropy said...

@ Anonymous: you obviously didn't see the one about the girl who was addicted to PEG tube feedings!! ( that's the tube you get surgically implanted through your abdomen straight into your stomach!) and she refused to eat and swallow food. She would only occasionally chew up a plate of food and spit it into a cup as she ate! And she's a skeleton because she only put nutritional drinks into the peg tube..And she has two little girls she actually gave birth to, but they weighed only 5 pounds on average! She was the sickest one I had ever seen. It was a sad sad story.

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lizabaker said...

Marquel is quite an interesting as a program to watch for those who have been affected by intervention eating disorder and drinking disorder.

mapoule said...

Total my stupid to say she is hispanic, she is american.

mapoule said...

Don't under estimate other people's pain when you seem to understand yours so well.
She did not get a chance to say bye to her mother, nobody told her that she was going to die thinkin that would protect her, at 15, it is pretty horrific, especially when everyone around you knew.
That is called family's secret

Anonymous said...

I agree, I saw this episode 5 years after it aired and if anyone cant see that Marquel is a brat. Simply put. She is coddled and to not take treatment is simply pathetic. Its obvious she has an issue. I love watching things like her saying she doesn't have an issue and next sentence says she has court for a DUI. wow, has a degree, get help. You have 2 kids you spoiled creep.