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Episode 119: Joe

Season 8, Episode 7

joe

Joe
Age:  24
Location: Long Grove, Illinois
Addicted to: Heroin, Self-asphyxiation
What’s Memorable: The choking game. Also, how he was always the outcast and never fit in with anyone until he started doing heroin. “I guess I’d rather fit in with heroin addicts than not fit in with anybody” – Joe

Legacy Update: As of Brian’s episode (July 2016) Joe had been sober 3 years after a relapse and some time in prison.

Update: Joe Spina tragically passed away on September 1, 2018 after suffering from a major infection and then a brain injury. You can read more about what happened on his dad’s Facebook page here and here.

Official synopsis:  Though he grew up in a close-knit family, Joe has felt lonely and isolated all his life. As a child, he was tormented by neighborhood boys, and his father viewed him as a failure. At age 8, Joe learned “the choking game,” in which a person uses his hands to cut off the oxygen supply to his brain to get high. Joe loved the sensation, and choked himself daily throughout childhood. In high school, Joe discovered drugs, and now he’s a heroin addict. Joe is killing himself, and his family is desperate to intervene.

Original Air Date: August 2010
Interventionist: Jeff

Categories: Addicts Who Have Died, Heroin, Jeff, Legacy Updates, Season 8, Self-asphyxiation

Discussion

23 Responses to “Episode 119: Joe”

  1. Joe, right behind Jacob, was one of the most endearing interventionee. But you could see he had other issues than just addiction (he shares many traits of Asperger’s disease).

    Anyhow, I came across a video made in September 2013 (3 1/2 years after the intervention) and he’s still an outstanding pianist. Unfortunately he looks rather sickly on that video: he’s so gaunt, like he has “aids face” and it’s hard not to wonder whether these arm warmers are used to hide track marks. Are arm warmers common among pianists?

    http://youtu.be/d9ZSVese57c?list=UUFkmoEZU32JeCfN3DWp5Mmw

    Posted by Jeb Fleurquin (@djibi94116) | July 19, 2014, 2:34 am
  2. There’s another one on YouTube dates 11/14, where he mentions a fiancée.

    Posted by Lissa | January 27, 2015, 9:49 pm
  3. Joe has a Facebook page I searched for him

    Posted by keri | January 28, 2015, 2:07 pm
  4. Yes, I thought Asperger’s straightaway, as well. HIs manner of speech, repetitive actions — starting to master the piano at age 3. My heart broke when he spoke of his loneliness! Children are indeed cruel, and as an adult, he fell into the easiest crowd to fit in with.

    Posted by Deadly_Sinner | January 29, 2015, 5:28 pm
  5. Joe is now living in Colorado with his absolutely gorgeous fiance. He seems to be doing well, especially getting some fame for his piano and keyboarding with the name Bedajuice. I feel like he has really turned things around.

    Posted by Sarah Thomas | January 30, 2015, 12:50 pm
  6. I’ve seen maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of all Intervention episodes, and this one really resonated with me and affected me the most. Joe seemed like such a kind, gentle, decent human being in that episode. Really sensitive and misunderstood, with no escape except drugs. The way his family treated him was sad to watch. Though I don’t believe their actions were out of malice, their attitudes seemed calibrated to fit someone Joe simply was not. Idk. I don’t want to judge anyone, it’s not my place. But I hope he is doing well and I hope the rest of his family is doing well too.

    Thank you Dizzy for all the work you put into this site. It means a lot to so many people and is deeply appreciated.

    Posted by LTempel | April 26, 2016, 3:18 am
  7. Just watched Joe and so glad he’s doing well. His Dad did so much damage to him. Glad he was strong enough to turn things around.

    Posted by Amy | July 24, 2016, 6:10 pm
  8. I know Joe personally, and was around while this was being filmed in Waukegan, IL where I used to live. Joe is an amazing person, and he was on an update segment on intervention which said after rehab he had used again, but then got clean. And this is true! Joe is doing VERY well in Colorado with his amazing fiance. And I had a feeling back in the day that Joe would be one of the people in our group that would make it. He and I both made it. I’m SO proud of him…

    Posted by Amy Christensen | June 6, 2017, 7:57 am
    • That’s so wonderful to hear! I just watched Joe’s episode and he was one of the participants who I had to find out more about for an unknown reason. Glad he is doing well and hope he continues to do so 🙂

      Posted by Julia | November 15, 2017, 5:37 pm
  9. This family was hard to watch-so harsh and negative. They definitely needed this intervention. Still sublty made it about them, and you could tell bc they only alluded to positive attributes about him that directly related to themselves, leaving out that he’s a gifted pianist and a good person. They could have benefited from some Betty Ford action.

    Posted by Junior | October 10, 2017, 9:51 pm
  10. His sister in California is beuitful I live in California and would love to meet her. But that dude had a lot stacked against him . He’s family just didn’t get it

    Posted by Eric | November 13, 2017, 2:50 pm
  11. Oh my gosh! I just saw on his sisters favebook page that Joe died several days ago. Complications from valley fever. I loved this guy on intervention. Such a sweet sweet soul. I hope he is at peace. Really devastated to hear this news. 🙁

    Posted by Rachel | September 5, 2018, 12:58 pm
  12. Yes, Joe sadly passed away. His family is hosting a memorial in Chicago. I miss him.

    Posted by Amy Christensen | September 6, 2018, 10:48 pm
  13. I just realized that Joe is the first person with a Legacy update to die 🙁

    Posted by Stefan | September 15, 2018, 12:54 am
  14. so sad…… RIP Joe 🙁

    Posted by Zoe | October 5, 2018, 6:50 am
  15. Just watched Joes episode from years ago. I’d seen it before, but this time I thought I’d google for an update on him. I wish I hadn’t to be honest. I understand shunning addicts to spare yourself, but I think Joe spent most of his life shunned, even before addiction. He will never be homeless again. He’ll never be cold walking the streets again. Most of all, he will never be lonely again. His emotional pain is over. It’s a shame he had to leave this world to get the peace he appeared to seek his whole life. Such a sad ending for this bright and likable young man…

    Posted by Stacy D. | November 3, 2018, 3:09 pm
    • While I do agree with you, Joe did not die cold, alone, and lonely. He was married, and moved away to Colorado. He was happy and sober. So he did get to experience happiness at the end. Me on the other hand…not so lucky. I would give anything to take Joe’s place. Although I am sober now; I can not escape the things that have happened in my past. They are in my mind constantly. I have no idea why some of us continue to exist and suffer, while those that found happiness are taken away.

      Posted by Amy | November 3, 2018, 8:42 pm
  16. Joe was one of my brother’s best friends in Jr. High and High School. We went to his Illinois celebration of life today, and it was sad and beautiful. Goodbye, Joe…

    Posted by Emily | November 10, 2018, 8:46 pm
  17. Thank you for all the beautiful comments about Joe. I am his mother, I am devastated by the loss of my beautiful boy. For those who have harshly judge our family you couldn’t be more wrong. We encouraged his love of music and his beloved piano. We tried and tried to help him, intervention was not successful. We sent him to Colorado to get away from Chicago, a program called Parker Valley Hope finally helped him get clean. He would have had 6years this December 21. With his success we moved our business and entire family to be with him in Colorado. He was not married, but was truly in love. He lived with his father and I for the last 13 months. We took care of him as he went through open heart surgery. Joe did not have AIDS or Aspergers as suggested up above. He had severe ADD and Hepatitis C. He overcame all of this. While in hospital for treatment for fungus infection, he fell out of bed and hit his head. He was on blood thinner. He died in my arms. He was the light of our family’s life. With his year living with us, it was a gift. All past actions were forgiven and he became very close with his father, brother sisters and especially his nieces and nephews. He will be remembers for being JO JO, the wonderful uncle, brother and son. Nothing left of joe the drug addict. Our family is grieving hard, we had a beautiful celebration of life that you can watch from his Facebook page. He recorded his last piano piece before he went to the hospital. It is a beautiful piece that I hope you all listen to. We will be spreading his ashes in beautiful Mexico on a beach that he loved so much. Please don’t judge families that are going through this. You don’t know the details of their life. Intervention left out a lot of tender moments between Joe and his family. They present it the way they want it to look, family has no input on the out come. Joe is free from his illness, addiction and the burden of life. My hope is that he is flying free, playing his beloved piano and in the arms of his grandparents until I can hold him in my arms once again.
    Sue Spina

    Posted by Sue Spina | November 19, 2018, 7:21 am
  18. Sue, I’m not sure why they didn’t go through but I’ve attempted multiple times to post my comment to you. Hoping you see this. I rooted for your son from the moment I watched his episode. I knew deep down that he wanted the sober life and he genuinely wanted to be clean and live a full happy life. I am so glad to hear that he had achieved his sobriety. I had no doubt that he would get there. As you said the show is edited to the producers liking, but it seemed that Joe felt like he was an outcast, maybe at school I’m not sure, but I also felt and was an outcaat growing up and itbmade me feel connected to him. He was a very intelligent and extremely talented young man. I hope you and your family can somehow find peace during this holiday season, and my condolences are with you. It beoke my heart to hear of Joe’s passing.

    Posted by Toreigh | November 23, 2018, 3:55 pm

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