EP 14 – Breaking Free: Jonathan Niziol’s Extraordinary Battle with Addiction

In this riveting episode of The Begin Again Podcast, we delve deep into the powerful journey of Jonathan Niziol, a remarkable individual who has triumphed over the grip of addiction. Prepare to be inspired as Jonathan fearlessly opens up about his personal battle, sharing his struggles, setbacks, and ultimately, his path to recovery.

Join us as we explore the raw emotions, the moments of despair, and the glimmers of hope that shaped Jonathan’s addiction journey. Through his candid storytelling, he sheds light on the harsh realities of addiction, dispelling common misconceptions and offering a unique perspective that will leave you with a newfound understanding.

But this episode isn’t just about the darkness. Jonathan’s story is one of resilience, strength, and the power of the human spirit. As he shares his pivotal moments of self-discovery and the strategies that helped him break free from addiction’s clutches, you’ll gain invaluable insights and practical advice for anyone facing similar challenges.

Whether you or someone you know has battled addiction, or you simply seek to understand the complexities of this widespread issue, this episode is a must-listen. Jonathan’s unwavering honesty and vulnerability will touch your heart and leave you feeling empowered.

So, join us on this episode as we embark on a transformative journey with Jonathan Niziol, shedding light on addiction, recovery, and the incredible strength of the human spirit. Get ready to be moved, inspired, and equipped with the knowledge to make a difference.


The views and opinions expressed by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the stand or beliefs of the host or the podcast. We aim to provide a diverse range of perspectives and ideas, fostering open and respectful discussions. We encourage critical thinking and forming your own conclusions. Enjoy the show!

About Our Guest (Jonathan Niziol)

Jonathan Niziol is a remarkable individual who has triumphed over the grip of addiction. Despite his success as a model, Jonathan has faced a lifelong battle with addiction, a struggle he kept hidden from the world until recently. In a courageous act of vulnerability, Jonathan shared his journey of addiction on Instagram, breaking the silence and shedding light on the realities of this widespread issue. His story is one of resilience, strength, and the power of the human spirit, inspiring countless individuals who face similar challenges.

Follow Jonathan Niziol on Instagram (@jonathanniziol) to stay connected with his journey of recovery, personal growth, and advocacy. Through his posts, Jonathan continues to share his experiences, insights, and practical advice, offering support and empowering others who may be going through similar struggles. Join his community and be inspired by his unwavering honesty, vulnerability, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those affected by addiction.

Show Notes

[01:15] In this episode of the Begin again podcast, host Gary Menkes interviews Jonathan Niziol, a model, real estate investor, trainer, and athlete, who opens up about his personal struggles with loss, mental health issues, eating disorders, alcoholism, and drug addiction. 

[02:30] Jonathan opens up about the importance of sharing his message to help others who may be feeling alone and going through dark times, emphasizing the need to be more real and use social media for a bigger purpose.

[04:35] Jonathan shares his childhood growing up on a farm in Canada, the lessons he learned about hard work and discipline, and how his college years became a bit wild, leading to a realization about his partying habits; he also discusses the sudden passing of his mother and the lack of understanding around mental health during that time. 

[08:55] Jonathan shares his personal journey of dealing with loss, falling into destructive habits, and ultimately hitting rock bottom, highlighting the pivotal moment when his best friend intervened and helped him remove himself from a toxic situation. 

[11:19] Jonathan shares about the moment he realized he needed help after experiencing acute pancreatitis, leading to a hospital visit and a wake-up call about his health. 

[14:55] Jonathan shares his near-death experience with pancreatitis, the drastic weight loss and physical challenges he faced, and how it completely changed his perspective on life and alcohol consumption. 

[20:00] Jonathan shares his experience of relapse and excessive drinking after getting out of the hospital, leading to a realization that he needed to address the underlying reasons for his addiction and replace it with a healthy fitness addiction. 

[23:17] Jonathan shares his journey of finding balance in his lifestyle, going from playing lacrosse professionally to transitioning into a successful modeling career, all while maintaining his athletic mindset and dedication to fitness. 

[26:06] Jonathan shares his experience of being consumed by fitness and body image, going to extreme measures to try and fit the mold of the models he saw in the industry, leading to unhealthy habits and a cycle of bingeing and purging that lasted for eight years. 

[29:20] Jonathan discusses his coping mechanisms and addictions, including his reliance on alcohol and food, as a model traveling and working in Miami, which led to the beginning of his battle with an eating disorder. 

[32:21] Jonathan reflects on his past struggles with alcoholism and the pressure of the modeling industry, discussing how he has learned to break the cycle and overcome feelings of self-doubt. 

[33:10] Jonathan shares his experience in the modeling industry, discussing the highs and lows of booking jobs, the pressure to maintain a certain image, and the impact it had on his self-esteem and relationship with food, as well as the lessons he learned while living in New York City. 

[36:33] Jonathan discusses how his upbringing and values have guided his decisions in the modeling industry, that he only takes on jobs that he feels comfortable showing his father, even when it comes to more risqué shoots, helping him stay true to himself as he navigates his career internationally. 

[39:12] Jonathan discusses his addiction to smoking weed and how it affected his life, relationships, and mental health for 7.5 years, highlighting the challenges of trying to quit and the impact it had on his eating disorder. 

[44:08] Jonathan shares how his personality completely changed after starting to take medication for ADHD, leading him to start his own personal training business and become more focused and productive. 

[46:10] Jonathan shares his experience of driving back from New York on Christmas Eve, where he took Adderall without a prescription for the first time, leading to a spiral of increased productivity, isolation, and reliance on the drug, but finding solace in his dog who helped him get out of the house. 

[49:11] Jonathan discusses how he maintained a polished image on the outside while battling internal struggles.

[53:34] Jonathan shares his inspiration for his work, reflecting on the day his mom died and how it humbled him. 

[56:16] Jonathan shares his journey of personal growth and emphasizes the importance of empathy, respect, and recognizing the value in every individual, regardless of their status or achievements, as he aims to make the world a better place by sharing his own experiences and helping others. 

[01:01:22] Jonathan opens up about his struggle with addiction to substances like nitrous oxide and muscle relaxers, and how it led him to hit rock bottom before seeking therapy and turning his life around. 

[01:04:46] Jonathan shares his personal experience with therapy and addiction, emphasizing the importance of seeking help and the need to stay guarded in sobriety. 

[01:08:31] Jonathan shares his personal experience with therapy, discussing the importance of addressing and fixing underlying issues before embarking on a new journey, as well as finding a therapist who allows for personal growth at one’s own pace. 

[01:10:27] Jonathan shares his experience of learning the difference between routine and addiction, realizing he wasn’t addicted to sushi and soup but rather establishing a healthy routine in his sober life, and finding balance in his fitness and nutrition choices. 

[01:13:14] Jonathan discusses the importance of helping oneself while helping others, the power of forgiveness, and the perspective gained from overcoming addiction.

[01:16:46] Jonathan shares his perspective on treating others with grace and understanding.

[01:20:31] Jonathan reflects on his early days of sobriety, discussing how he used to bring people down to his level of misery, but now focuses on lifting others up and having grace for those going through similar struggles, acknowledging that people may know him as a version of himself that no longer exists.[01:24:18] Gary Menkes expresses his gratitude to Jonathan Niziol for sharing his courageous story, and they plan to have a part two episode in the future, highlighting their connection and appreciation for each other.

For more incredible and inspiring stories of those who have overcome alcoholism and addiction, tune in to the next episodes of The Begin Again Podcast through:

About Gary Menkes

Gary Menkes was born and raised in Port Washington, NY and struggled with alcoholism since his early teens which took him to places he never wants to go again and which took a toll on his health, relationships and professional endeavors. However, Gary completely transformed his life when he was given the gift of sobriety on May 13, 2006. Determined to break free from the cycle of self-destruction, he embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery.

Today, Gary is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York, married to the love of his life and father of two amazing children of which he owes all to his sobriety. Gary is now launching his own podcast, The Begin Again Podcast.