Joe Polish is founder and president of Piranha Marketing. His Genius Network and GeniusX masterminds feature household guests like Peter Diamandis, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Forbes, and John Mackay.
Joe is the creator of Artists for Addicts and Genius Recovery, an organization’s whose mission is to change the global conversation around addiction and recovery from one of judgment to one of compassion. He is currently working on an addiction recovery book with former SHAIR guest, Anna David.
Joe is a dynamic individual who is seeking tools for recovery in any shape or form, even ibogaine and ayahuasca. His is an inspirational story full of new insights into addiction and how to break free from it.
Listen to Joe’s story!
Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!
Joe Polish’s Story
Joe’s story begins with rape and abuse and plummets into self-destructive drug use. In his early twenties, he was able to quit using cocaine and methamphetamines, but he wasn’t able to stop the cycle of addiction. His cravings switched from drugs to sex. He was searching for a safe place that he could never find.
Joe lost his mom when he was four years old. His father was a broken man who didn’t know how to cope, a locksmith who used work to avoid dealing with issues. Throughout Joe’s childhood, they moved around frequently. Joe was a shy kid, which made it extra hard on him. Just when he was getting settled into a new community, his father would uproot them. Joe was tormented by bullies. He also was being molested at this time.
All these negative experiences compelled Joe to seek a coping mechanism. That came in the form of marijuana. In high school, he started smoking pot heavily on a daily basis. He was also drinking, snorting coke and meth, and eventually freebasing. His drug use transformed him from an introvert into one of the most popular people in school. It opened him up, and he became known as a party guy.
The problem was he didn’t have a shut off switch. He used so heavily that when he blew his nose, flesh would come out and his teeth were eaten by the freebase. He was so week and emaciated, he couldn’t even ride a bike around the block.
It’s not so much how good you feel when your high, but how terrible you feel when you’re not.
After a crazed addict Joe was partying with almost set himself and everyone in the house on fire, he realized this lifestyle might kill him. When he looked in the mirror, he could see he was deteriorating. So he got into his beat-up truck and drove to New Mexico to detox from the drugs.
Joe lived in a trailer, going through the horrible withdrawals without medical or psychological help. But he did detox and began a life in sobriety. When his strength returned, he delivered newspapers and sold gym memberships to earn a living. He enrolled in New Mexico State University and started lifting weights. Soon, his body was back in condition.
The physical pain went away quickly, but mental withdrawals still nagged him. At the gym where he worked, he met a man who ran a mental hospital. He gave Joe a job as a mental health tech. One of his duties was to drive addict patients to 12 Step meetings. Joe had to sit in on the meetings and wait for the patients, not knowing the value of soaking up the information.
He eventually went back to Arizona where he started a business as a carpet cleaner. He was in debt, but he was clean from drugs and in great shape. He floundered as an entrepreneur at first, but then he began to learn marketing technics, and discovered that he was good at it. He started teaching his methods to others in the carpet cleaning industry and his training business flourished. He helped 9,000 cleaning companies around the world.
Financially success was finally his. Still, his relationships were toxic and the women he drew into his life betrayed him again and again. Whenever Joe wanted to feel good or feel safe in the world, he would turn to sex. He did not know how to have a loving, healthy relationship with anybody. He asked himself why he kept attracting these toxic elements into his life.
Joe tried rehab. He joined a high-profile addiction group with actors, politicians, musicians, and sports stars. He delved into more therapy, recovery, and trauma work, but he still bumbled around through periods of sober living and multiple relapses. He spent about half a million dollars on recovery, but he probably spent just as much acting out on his sex addiction. He was trying to pay people to work his recovery for him, and it wasn’t working.
I tried to buy my way into sobriety.
Joe stayed on the addiction roller coaster until 2009-2010. Somehow, all he learned reached critical mass and things started clicking. What helped him most was coming out to the world about his recovery. Now Joe Polish is at the forefront of the modern recovery movement helping others by sharing his experience.
Help other people who are suffering. That is how you will stop your suffering.
What kept Joe from getting clean?
Joe blames his ego. He was always second guessing that life was possible without his vices. He believed he could outsmart addiction and intellectualize his way out fo it. He was a stubborn addict who bumbled around and took half-measures for decades.
That Aha moment
Joe never had one defining moment that change his destructive path. What he did have were many incremental realizations. He showed up. He kept on it, and the insights steadily came to him.
You’re a s sick as your secrets. Get rid of them. Mold and toxicity grow in darkness. Get out of the silent battles.
Suggestion for newcomers
Joe says that if you’re struggling with addiction, the fact that you’re reading this right now means you’ve already started the shift towards recovery. He suggests you ask yourself this question: If you were the most important person in the world to yourself, what would you tell yourself to do to save your life?
Joe says that when it comes to recovery, unlearning is more important than learning. You have to replace old, bad habits that made you feel good for new, healthy ones.
Today could be the last day of who you used to be.
See you then!
If you would like to Donate to The SHAIR Podcast you can do so using PayPal! The entire amount of your donation will go towards maintaining and growing the show.
To Donate now click on the Donate Button below!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.