How Mike Majlak Discovered His Superpower

Long before Mike became the co-host of Impaulsive, one of the world’s biggest podcasts, a viral vlogger, and a New York Times bestseller, he was an addict and drug dealer, battling between life and death, prison and freedom. Although Mike had every opportunity to submit to life’s woes, he trudged through the darkness and came out on the other side with a superpower.

In the early 2000s, a new pharmaceutical triggered the worst opioid epidemic the nation had ever seen. A small, unassuming tablet called OxyContin swept through the country, touted as a miracle pill, the answer for chronic pain and disease. But what the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma hid from the public was the pill’s powerful addictiveness, leaving tens of thousands of people dead, families destroyed, and children orphaned. At the front of it all, squeezed by OxyContin’s sinister grip, was Mike Majlak.

“I completely and utterly lost my way in life and was a part of basically the ground zero of what became, you know, the Great American Opiate Epidemic that we all know about today.”
Mike grew up as an ordinary kid in an ordinary town. Nothing about his upbringing would have labeled him as an at-risk youth, but that’s exactly what he became during his junior year of high school when he snorted his first 20mg of OxyContin.

“I knew it was a drug like anything else, but I had no idea what I was doing, and what this led to is, you know, an eight-year battle with opiate addiction. I slowly, but surely, became addicted to Oxies, watched friends of mine in their high school careers start to turn from, you know, middle-class kids to robbing pharmacies, robbing houses, stealing cars, robbing other dealers, going to jail. I started to lose friends to overdose pretty early on, and by the time I was out of high school, I was a full-blown addict.”
When Mike was fresh out of high school, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began pulling OxyContin off the shelves, but for him and many others it was too late. Addiction had sunk its teeth into Mike, and in the snap of a finger, he turned to new vices.

“…we started to get into finding a substitute for that, which ended up being heroin. And for years after that, I sold heroin, was a heroin addict, as well as becoming, in the end of it, a crack addict.”
The ordinary kid with a promising future was now the local drug dealer who had thrown away his potential from substance abuse and criminality. Mike Majlak was counted out and written off. Police knew him by name, and the people around, including himself, could only see his story ending in a cell or a grave.

But through a single decision, that’s not where his story ended.

While on parole, Mike failed a drug test. His parole officer gave him an ultimatum: Enroll in a 90-day detox clinic or go to jail.

For the first time in eight years, Mike got sober. It was a step in the right direction, but he knew he was still teetering between addiction and a new life. So, Mike double-downed and checked into a rehab, where the light at the end of the tunnel began to flicker.

That light was sparked by a new clarity of mind and a simple bucket list:

Go to Six Flags, Ski in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Find real friends, Weigh 200lbs, Travel to California, etc.

“…I started to dream again. I started to think maybe I can do some of these things, and I don’t know If I really believed it. I don’t know if I ever really thought it was going to go to California…But now, when I look back at this bucket list, I’ve checked off pretty much every single one of the things.”

Mike had momentum, but what he still didn’t have was confidence. Sure, he was clean, but what could a 25-year-old felon do without work experience or a college education? So, instead of focusing on what he couldn’t control, Mike focused on what he could: his health.

“When I got out of rehab, I weighed 285lbs, and within, you know, a year or so after getting clean, I was all the way down to about 180lbs. So, I lost over 100lbs though cycling, through going to the gym, through, you know, other types of exercise, and I attribute my feeling better and renewed confidence in myself with some of the reason why I was able to excel in my early recovery.”

Putting one foot in front of the other and working on himself opened up a world of opportunities. From working odd jobs like dog-walking to writing for the local paper to landing a corporate gig to eventually teaming up with the internet sensation Logan Paul, he had defied the odds.

Mike wasn’t in a cell or a grave.

What he discovered after transforming his life was that hitting rock bottom and overcoming the adversity that almost killed him didn’t leave him with a missing piece; it left him with a superpower.

“I came out of it with this insane level of empathy and understanding that you could ever have in life. And I look at the people that I work alongside that have more money than me still, and they have this, and they have that, but they’re unable to garner the level of instantaneous rapport that I have with people because I can immediately understand, feel for you, and put myself in your shoes. Without addiction, without 10 years of living on the streets, without ruining my life, without making my mom cry, without breaking down, without all the terrible stuff that I went through in my life, I would not have that superpower.”

Today, Mike uses his story to show the world that the impossible is possible, but to achieve that, it requires work, real work, beyond just putting down the drugs or slapping on a band aide. Part of that process, he says, is changing your perspective. Finding yourself in the gutter is an opportunity to earn your stripes and harness your own personal superpower that you may not understand yet.

“If you’re reading this…and you’re trying to think to yourself, ‘Why should I? Why should I do this? Why Should I do that?’ You’re in a special time right now. You’re in a time where you don’t need to do all that much to become a person that matters to this world, that could have legacy, that could have success, that could have meaning, impact, whatever it is that you want to have, because of how easy it is to reach each other, to get to the other side of the world, to tell your story…Now is the time to really believe that you can be greater than you ever thought you could be.”  

If anyone is proof of that message, it’s Mike himself. In 2021, he released his memoir The Fifth Vital, hoping to sell a couple thousand copies. Instead, he sold hundreds of thousands of copies, became a New York Times Bestseller, and topped the Amazon charts.

The book has been distributed to prisons and rehabs around the world and is responsible for inspiring countless people to rise from the ashes and use adversity to reach new heights.

“Overcoming adversity, that’s the greatest thing that you’re ever going to do in your life. You spend so much of your time in that adversity… looking around at people saying like, ‘Oh my God, you have it so good; they have it so good; they have it so good,’ feeling bad for yourself, feeling shame, feeling sadness, feeling hopeless. Right now, knowing that if or when you’re able to overcome that, you will put a cape on that none of these people will ever be able to wear.”

Mike’s story isn’t just about breaking free from substance abuse; it’s about remembering that no matter how bleak or dire your situation is, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. By trudging through the darkness, you not only conquer your demons but also unlock a superpower–a superpower that only adversity can forge. Thanks to the Mike Majlaks of the world, we don’t have to look at difficulties and misfortunes as the end of our stories; they’re just the beginning of something great.

What will your superpower be?