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Season 8, Episode 7


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

All comments.

  1. Jeb Fleurquin (@djibi94116)

    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?

  2. Lissa

    There’s another one on YouTube dates 11/14, where he mentions a fiancée.

  3. keri

    Joe has a Facebook page I searched for him

  4. Deadly_Sinner

    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.

  5. Sarah Thomas

    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.

  6. LTempel

    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.

    1. Kara Bishop

      I agree with everything you said about Joe… It was nice to see that his brother took Jeff’s advice, or was going to do this on his own anyways, with the intervention letter, and spoke about his love, admiration, and pride of Joe, and then later explained what hurt him, while letting him know that he will support him and keep him as his child’s God parent. I don’t know if I did a good job explaining exactly what Joe’s brother did with his letter, but I believe it was one of the best letters on intervention from a family member that was so angry and hurt, but still loved his brother. I wish more family members would listen to the interventionist more and maybe watch other interventions, like this one, and see how doing so actually helps the addicted person feel the love and support of their family member,
      And helps them to be so engaged in listening to the letter, which helps them realize what a life of sobriety would feel like. Of course it’s very sad that Joe has passed away. I send my thoughts and prayers to his family! They lost a kind and gentle and loving soul! But he’ll always be around them playing the piano! Now he’s truly a peace! Even though we don’t know, Joe, there’s lots of intervention fans, including myself, that feel a great love, sorrow, and loss for Joe! ❤️🫶🏼🙏🏼

  7. Amy

    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.

  8. Amy Christensen

    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…

    1. Julia

      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 🙂

  9. Junior

    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.

  10. Eric

    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

    1. Ez

      that’s creepy af dude

  11. Rachel

    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. 🙁

    1. Dizzy

      Oh no! That’s terrible news. Do you have a link to his sister’s FB page or something that I can use to verify? You can send to [email protected] if you’d rather not post here. Thanks.

      1. Andy
        Dizzy this is his dads facebook. Joe died on September 1st. It says he fell into a coma and never woke up.

      2. Tazz

        His sister goes by lilhurry on Instagram. She posted a few photos of Joe as a tribute to his life. He seemed like a beautiful soul, and I’m sad that he ended up passing on at such a young age 😔

  12. Amy Christensen

    Yes, Joe sadly passed away. His family is hosting a memorial in Chicago. I miss him.

  13. Stefan

    I just realized that Joe is the first person with a Legacy update to die 🙁

  14. Zoe

    so sad…… RIP Joe 🙁

  15. Stacy D.

    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…

    1. Amy

      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.

  16. Emily

    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…

  17. Sue Spina

    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

    1. Caroline

      Dear Sue,

      It’s been 1,5 years since you wrote this message and I don’t know if you will read mine someday.

      I want to address you my deepest condolences for the loss of your precious son Joe.

      I watched the episode with my mom who used to be addicted to alcohol and is sober for 6 years. I am so greatful about that.
      When she was an addict, she was so lonely, the family didn’t understand nor wanted to be around. I was the only one to accept her.

      We saw how much you loved JO, and the ones who judge don’t know what families go through with an addict person.
      Your husband admitted his mistakes and that was beautiful and so important for JO to hear. He knew that his family cared and loved him.

      I think it’s so sad that he’s gone so fast and so soon, he didn’t deserve to die, he chose the path of life.
      I really wish it turned differently for him. I’m so sorry.

      No one should endure the loss of a child, no matter what age they are.

      I hope you are okay.

      Caroline FROM France.

    2. CDM

      So sorry for your loss!

    3. Franz Kafka

      Mrs. Spina,
      My condolences to you and your loved ones for Joe’s passing. But congratulations, too. Because Joe finally got to experience life and love before passing. Joe truly was the personification of the bluethroat nightingale, both in it’s gentleness and in it’s keenness for music. It’s throat is a blue so enigmatic that it is nearly impossible not to lose yourself in it. It reminds me of those childhood day’s when I’d stare deep into an azure sky wishing that I might steal a glimpse of God’s face. One thing for certain, Joe flies free and high—and singing the music that filled his timid heart the instant it was conceived.

      1. Kara Bishop

        What a beautiful comment Franz Kafka! 🕊️

    4. Andy

      You don’t owe any of us any explanation. Most of these people come here to judge to make themselves feel better about their own lives. Sorry for your family’s loss. He was a beautiful soul.

    5. Kara Bishop

      Dear Sue, first, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that you read this. I have always wondered why people judge families, or even the addicted person when intervention is only 45 minutes of their lives and is edited. Even with this i could tell that he had a loving and supportive family! Joe did not become such a loving and gentle soul, without such a loving family. At least that’s what I think. After I watched his episode, I came to this page with hope that he found a life of sobriety! As I read, I was filled with joy when I found that this was true! But then I was immediately filled with sorrow when I read that he had passed! As I was reading the Facebook page that was on the comments so fans could read what your husband had wrote about Joe’s passing, i noticed that your husband’s Facebook page said he was living in Colorado. And I had also read a previous comment that Joe was living in Colorado. Because of the love and support that I felt his family had, I wondered if the whole family, and your husband’s business, had moved to Colorado to be with him. It was such a special thought in my mind! And when I read your comment and realized it was true, I felt the complete love and support he must have felt when you guys moved for him! I am a mother to an 18-year-old boy and a 15-year-old daughter, as well as a recovering addict of 18 years on meth and almost 10 years on opiate pills, so, even though I don’t know your pain, I can only imagine what it must be like to lose such a wonderful and talented son, especially after he had found a life of sobriety! There are so many of us intervention fans, that we’re so fond of Joe, even though we did not know him. So I can only imagine how hard it is for you and your family! I know it has been a while now, but I am sure that you still feel the hurt and pain of losing Joe. I just wanted you to know that I will be sending you and your amazing family thoughts and prayers! He is now in heaven at peace, and playing the piano! I hope you sometimes faintly hear Joe playing the piano, as he is with you!! ❤️🙏🏼🫶🏼

  18. Toreigh

    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.

  19. A.S.

    Aw, Joe I just wanted to give him a hug. He was so sweet and genuine. RIP

  20. Sammy

    Seeing that Joe passed broke my heart. He had such a sweet nature about him and so handsome. So happy he had the last years of his Life clean, being loved and with his family.
    Rest In Peace Joe.

  21. T

    This one was so beyond painful for me. His saying “ you don’t know what lonely is. I know what lonely is.” (Or something like that.) Definitely related to a lot of what this man said. And it starts before the drugs, most of the time.

    1. T

      Somewhat unrelated but Jeff absolutely killed the pre intervention. His explanation of addiction and consistency was spot on, and I don’t usually like Jeff much. But damn, he preached this time.