Location: Los Gatos, California
What’s memorable: She weighs 80 pounds, first of all. A smart and beautiful girl from an upper crust traditional family with decent parents: it’s hard to understand what went so wrong that she has to go to such extremes in order to feel loved, but no one knows what goes on in other peoples’ heads. Kaila literally has days to live, but she feels powerful “going against the laws of nature.” It’s all very sad.
Official Synopsis: As a young girl, Kaila, 19, was raised in an affluent, image-conscious community where she felt teased for being overweight, and overlooked by her parents. Now, at a mere 80 pounds and eating only a few hundred calories a day, Kaila is literally starving herself to death to have what she’s always wanted–to be the center of her family’s attention. Her distraught parents have been told by Kaila’s doctors to prepare for her death, “Intervention is truly our last option,” says Kaila’s mother, “Please help us!”
Original Air Date: July 2013
Location: Austin, Texas
What’s memorable: So this kid submits himself to the show (obviously lying about who is doing the submitting), convinces his parents to lie to the producers and pretend he wasn’t the one who set the whole thing up, treats EVERYONE like shit, and then gets downright cruel when they actually expect him go to treatment. I understand the severity of his illness, but I just don’t know how anyone can excuse the kind of behavior he exhibited during filming. He asked for his mother to talk to him alone during the intervention, then spent the whole time berating her and trying to make her feel bad. You can just tell he’s a master manipulator and has the whole family under his control. It’s very, very disturbing. I was glad to see him get better, he was most certainly going to die of that disease, I just hope that he spends some significant time during recovery making active amends and looking hard at how he treats the people who love him.
In an Intervention first that reveals a surprising outcome, we reach out to 18-year-old Andrew who once dreamed of a military career, but now binges and purges up to 12 times a day.
Original Air Date: February 2013
Location: Porter Ranch, California
Addiction: Alcohol, Bulimia
What’s memorable: How her parents can’t figure out where she gets the money to buy alcohol, the married boyfriend that’s 30 years older and was her customer at the strip club, how skinny and unhealthy she is, the awful way her parents treat her and each other, the way her mom hides bottles of wine in the closet and doesn’t think anyone knows.
Update Dec 2014: It appears that Katie is sober but still struggles with her eating disorder. Her dad has set up a GoFundMe to help get her into treatment. The photos I’ve seen are shocking – she looks to have lost quite a bit of weight and she was skinny to begin with. I hope she is able to get the help she truly needs. Facebook page and GoFundMe page
Official Synopsis: Twenty-five year-old Katie uses her eating disorder and binge drinking to cope with her mother’s secret alcoholism and parents war with each other while her worried siblings pray someone can step in and save them all.
Original Air Date: August 2012
Location: Tuscon, Arizona
Addiction: Eating disorder – Eats things he most certainly should not eat as a diabetic. Also, he seems a bit addicted to attention and to being sick.
What’s memorable: “Sometimes I think he just wants to be the sickest one in the house.” – mother with MS and Lupus. The whole thing with him going out with friends from work and being all excited about having some people to hang with, and then no one shows up…that’s just depressing as hell. Poor guy, so embarrassing to have that happen on camera. Is he suicidal because he has no friends or does he have no friends because he’s suicidal? I hope he’s ok now.
Update: Sadly, John passed away on September 30, 2014. Read more here.
Official Synopsis: John has type one diabetes but refuses to be diligent about checking his blood sugar, or taking his insulin. A social misfit and an outcast for many years, John wants to be considered a regular guy, and pretends to be one by eating whatever he wants without regard for his illness. He has been in a near-coma and hospitalized multiple times. His parents want to stop enabling his self-destructive behavior, but won’t kick him out of the house because they fear he’ll die without their supervision.
Original Air Date: January 2009
Location: South Beach, Florida
Addiction: Alcohol, bulimia, exercise
What’s memorable: This episode makes the “unforgettable episodes” category on account of 1) the intervention that didn’t happen as a result of her roommate figuring out it was the Intervention cameras, and telling her about it and 2) Marquel’s serious denial about her various addictions.
Official Synopsis: Working as a fitness instructor at the most elite gyms and partying on the club circuit at night, Marquel seems to have the perfect life. But her family sees her exercise regime as obsessive-compulsive, and they watch her binge-drinking episodes end up in hospitalizations. They believe she is an exercise addict, bulimic, and alcoholic, and they have turned to interventionist Candy for help.
Original Air Date: February 2010
Location: New Mexico
Addiction: Alcohol (vodka), anorexia, self-injury (cutting)
What’s memorable: How morose and depressed she is, suicidal to the point of people being tired of hearing her threaten to kill herself. She’s clearly reaching out for help and attention though, and has been for many many years, but her family consistently has ignored and dismissed her. “You shouldn’t have to work so hard to convince your parents that you need help.” Indeed. Oh, and also, her sister telling her SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN HERSELF RAPED. “I warned her not to put herself in those situations.” That’s a seriously messed up thing to say.
Official Synopsis: Amy grew up feeling unloved and unable to meet her parents’ high expectations. She was also molested by a neighbor when she was eight, but never told anyone in her family. She began to self-mutilate and restrict her diet, and by 17, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now, Amy eats only 500 calories a day, drinks up to two bottles of vodka a night, and regularly self-mutilates. Amy’s family is ready to give up on her, but they still don’t know about Amy’s sexual abuse. Only Amy’s friend, Jessica, knows the truth, but will she have the courage to tell Amy’s family before it’s too late?
Original Air Date: December 2009
Location: Southern California
Addiction: Alcohol, Bulimia
What’s memorable: How completely wasted he gets, how much he eats, what a brat he is, and how important a life in academia is to him.
Official Synopsis: Born into a mixed-race family in a predominantly white town, Asa struggled with low self-esteem and body image growing up. Classmates teased him because of his size, ethnicity, and effeminate manner. Desperate to loss weight, Asa became bulimic. He came out as a gay man at 19 and started using hard drugs and drinking heavily. For the past 10 years, Asa has been working towards his college degree. Being a medical science student, he understands how his eating disorder and alcoholism are affecting him, but he’s been unable to stop. His family now realizes that an intervention is their last chance to help Asa.
Original Air Date: July 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Addiction: Dyspahsia- not swallowing, also pain pills
What’s Memorable: She hasn’t swallowed food or liquid in 14 years! I mean seriously. Not even saliva. That’s disturbing enough, but her inability to swallow is a traumatized response to being forced to perform oral sex on her friend’s father when she was a child. The man who did is admitted to it, got probation, and still lives in her neighborhood, triggering her over and over. Her parents did nothing when it happened. And now everyone just tells her she should get over it and move on, that she’s just looking for attention. No one in her life seems to have any kind of sympathy for her, they just think she’s disgusting. I mean she clearly needs help, she’s very unhealthy, and she’s been resistant to getting that help, but I just think that if her family could get a grip on WHY she is the way she is, and that she needs their support and not their judgment, she would be more willing to get better.
Official synopsis: After being molested as a child, Nicole developed an unusual eating disorder–she was unable to swallow. By age 16, she weighed just 68 pounds, and doctors inserted a feeding tube into her stomach. The tube was supposed to be temporary, but 16 years later, Nicole still relies on the tube and can’t swallow any food or liquids. She also abuses prescription drugs and neglects her two daughters. Her husband plans to divorce her if she continues to neglect their children.
Original Air Date: December 2008
What’s Memorable: How sad he is that he got so big, the incredibly messed-up family dynamic, especially dealing with his father. The followups and Josh’s subsequent youtube videos that shed more light on his situation. Here’s the latest video I could find.
Note: Josh is in the “Homosexuality as possible addiction trigger” category because he came out after the episode aired. I don’t know for sure that being in the closet was a part of his overeating, but it certainly makes sense.
Official synopsis: Next, a talented singer and the owner of his own karaoke business, 22-year-old Josh is addicted to food and weighs 550 lbs. Josh’s father, Rex, has the same weight problem–at 317 lbs., he’s a diabetic who’s had six strokes. Now, Rex watches helplessly as Josh follows in his footsteps toward an early death. Josh’s mother and two brothers hope that an intervention will be a wake-up call for the whole family to choose health.
Original Air Date: January 2008
Addiction: Anorexia, exercise
What’s Memorable: How sick and frail her body is. How weird it is to see what she would look like if she wasn’t Anorexic (twin sister). The crazy food rituals.
Official synopsis: Emily, 26, grew up struggling to meet her parents’ high expectations. Despite winning many academic and athletic honors, Emily suffered from depression and low self-esteem, and her shameful feelings intensified when she became a date-rape victim in college. She dieted in hopes of regaining control of her emotions and life, but now she weighs less than 90 pounds. Her family’s last hope is an intervention that will stop her from starving herself to death.
Original Air Date: December 2007
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Addiction: Heroin & Cocaine (Speedballs), Bulimia
What’s Memorable: The skin-picking, how badly the drugs have affected her looks, her controlling anorexic mother, her 50-year old boyfriend.
Official synopsis: As a child Caylee was an over-achiever from an affluent family. But despite her myriad successes, her mother, Christy, was never satisfied with her. Christy, herself was sexually-abused as a girl, and has hidden her bulimia from her family for 35 years. When Caylee was in grade school, Christy began to teach her daughter to count her calories. In high school, Caylee became a bulimic and began drinking. Now, she is 23 and a bulimic and a heroin addict. She is 80 lbs, and goes to her 50 year-old “boyfriend” for drugs and money. The family wants to help both mother and daughter. If they can find a way to have the mother present for Caylee’s intervention, they can then approach Christy about her bulimia as well.
Original Air Date: August 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada
Addiction: Bulimia, exercise
What’s Memorable: Her parents basically locking her in the basement so they don’t have to see her food issues. Her severe body dismorphia. The way she believes that bulimia is her “thing”, what makes her special and unique. Her 100% focus on her eating disorder.
Official synopsis: Amy and her family escaped the violence of apartheid-era South Africa and immigrated to Canada 22 years ago. But Amy suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem, and she became anorexic and, soon after, bulimic. Now she lives alone in the basement of her family’s house and steals from family members to pay for her eating binges. Weighing only 92 pounds, Amy is on the brink of death.
Original Air Date: April 2010
Location: Northern California
What’s Memorable: The extent to which Kim hates herself is truly disturbing. She is clearly mentally ill, just completely drowning in her horrible thoughts.
Official synopsis: Kim is a beautiful 34-year-old make-up artist who grew up a cheerleader and popular. But fearing her good looks and slim figure were deteriorating, Kim turned to bulimia and anorexia. Now Kim’s weight issues have taken over her life. She is entrenched in a divorce with her high school sweetheart, who she still loves dearly. She’s moved in with her mother and stepfather, with whom she can’t get along. Kim’s needs have taken over the household and no one believes it can get better unless Kim agrees to get help.
Original Air Date: March 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Addiction: Bulimia, Alcohol
What’s Memorable: Trophy wife syndrome: She got the life she always thought she wanted, but wasn’t never happy with it. Also, her family that signed a contract saying they would go to family treatment if she agreed to get help, and never went.
Official synopsis: When Amber was molested as a young child, she bottled up her emotions. She began binge eating, and became bulimic because she wanted to be popular and beautiful like her older sister. After high school, Amber had a baby and married, and managed to look like she was living an idyllic family life. But she was actually depressed, drinking heavily, and purging regularly. Her family hopes an intervention can help her confront her problems.
Original Air Date: July 2010
Addiction: Bulimia, Food
What’s Memorable: This was the first episode I ever saw and it just blew me away. Her binges are absolutely epic – 3 days worth of junk food in 3 hours. She throws it up so that she can eat more. The food garbage in the back of her truck. She works as a stripper in order to afford food. Her parents had to put a lock on the fridge. It’s hard not to feel really sorry for her, and for her family. She is so very sick. I hope she’s okay now.
Official synopsis: Jessie is a beautiful young woman who once dreamed of becoming a doctor. But that was before bulimia trapped her in cycle of despair.
Original Air Date: December 2006
Sonia and Julia
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
What’s memorable: Everything. It seems so clear that these two are addicted to each other, positively obsessed with each other, and not eating/being thin is just another way for them to compete. I mean they’ve obviously got a serious eating disorder, but it’s more obvious than usual that it is a symptom of much deeper emotional issues developed as a result of them never having had their own identities apart from being a twin. It’s such a sad story. I really hope they’re doing well now.
Official synopsis: Identical twins Sonia and Julia, 22, shared everything as children and grew up in a loving home. Their parents emigrated from Poland and worked multiple jobs to send their children to the best schools. But now the family’s American Dream is turning into a nightmare as Sonia and Julia are withering away from anorexia. The sisters’ competitive spirit has turned to bitter rivalry and jealousy. And they’re so stricken with fear that the other will burn more calories that they never let each other out of their sight. Now their desperate parents seek help.
Original Air Date: June 2009
Season 2, Episode 9
Addiction: Anorexia, Bulimia
What’s memorable: Her eating disorder’s name is Eddie. She throws up, starves herself, and chews and spits our her food. She doesn’t look sick.
Official synopsis: Annie is anorexic and bulimic. Now her fiancé, Kevin, desperately wants an intervention because he’s afraid that Annie’s eating disorders will kill her.
Original Air Date: March 2006
Season 2, Episode 5
What’s memorable: Throwing up into plastic bags, using a toothbrush. Eating until she physically can’t anymore at all-you-can-eat buffets. The relief after the intervention about not having to worry about hiding her disease anymore.
Official synopsis: For the past eleven years Salina has been suffering from severe bulimia. She also struggles with a shopping addiction and recently began battling a new urge, self-mutilation. Her family is desperate to help her break this cycle and is hoping she will take this lifeline.
Original Air Date: January 2006
Addicted to: Bulimia
What’s memorable: How much she eats in a day, and how sad she is about it.
Official synopsis: Renee’s eating disorder has become so dangerous that it is threatening her health, marriage, finances, and even the custody of her two small children.
Original Air Date: May 2005
What’s Memorable: Kelly really helped me understand the thought processes of an anorexic. She’s very articulate about her disease, and she seems like a wonderful person.
Official synopsis: Kelly is an anorexic who weighs 93 pounds and whose young daughter is following in her footsteps, often picking at her food or refusing to eat altogether. Her friends are seeking help not just to save Kelly, but her daughter as well.
Original Air Date: June 2005
I’ve found references to this episode, but it is not listed on the Intervention Episode Guide and is not available on Netflix. And as far as I know, it has not been re-run since it originally aired in July of 2005. If anyone knows where I can find it, please let me know.
Synopsis (via tv.com): A wealthy family is in crisis and desperate to help Michael, a rage addict with a long history of violent behavior who has punched 24 holes in the walls of his father’s house in the past year. And a woman seeks help for her sister, a bulimic and crystal meth addict who was sexually abused as a child by her babysitter.