A little over a year ago, Jodi Sutton was struggling with addiction. Today, she is a powerful voice for recovery who shares her story about how she found success through the support of the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center (BWROC) which empowered her to turn her life around.
Created in September 2017, BWROC is a nonprofit recovery community organization (RCO) based in Port Huron, Michigan that offers non-clinical recovery support and coaching to those struggling with addiction. While it’s not a treatment provider, BWROC offers a unique approach as a peer-driven organization led by people in recovery that works to help people like Jodi restore their lives.
Jodi grew up in the Blue Water Area with her parents and two sisters and started to experiment with drugs as a teenager. She was close with her mother who struggled with a substance use disorder of her own and eventually the two began sharing prescriptions.
“My mother abused drugs but she didn’t start until I was a teenager,” Jodi said. “She was addicted to pain medication, so she and I used together throughout my teenage years, but I was doing other things on top of it. The drinking and the meth … I was living a double life for a very long time.”
The 39-year-old continued to use drugs well into her adult life, hiding her struggle in the workplace as well as at home with her husband Jeff and their 8-year-old son Chase.
“I basically got on the phone and called every resource I could think of for help,” Jodi said. “Anything I could do for any kind of outpatient; I just didn’t want to go back to the hospital and I had responsibilities at home that I had to take care of.”
Her search ultimately led her to the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center where she met BWROC Peer Recovery Coach, Nicole Bickel. Jodi and Nicole worked over the course of a year helping Jodi to develop skills that would help her in her recovery journey such as creating coping mechanisms, learning to work through challenges and recognizing her self-worth.
“Jodi is an amazing woman,” Nicole said. “I’ve seen her grow leaps and bounds and just become a light that others can see … she’s an advocate for recovery and that’s what we need so we can get the next person who needs help, who wants it and give them that motivation. It’s just a blessing to have been able to have that relationship with her.”
Of the many characteristics Jodi said she appreciates about BWROC and her relationship with Nicole is that she never felt uncomfortable or judged.
“It’s nothing about making you feel shameful about anything and that’s what I love about it the most,” Jodi said. “I’ve lived with enough shame for what I’ve done, like I know what I’ve done. Some places make you feel bad about yourself and BWROC doesn’t do that.”
She is working with Literacy and Beyond to complete her GED and is only one class away from graduation. Afterward, she plans to continue on to study cosmetology at Paul Mitchell.
“I just want to reach out to women and be something positive,” Jodi said. “When I do somebody’s makeup and they look in the mirror for the very first time and they have that smile on their face, even though they’re already beautiful, they feel beautiful and I helped do that — that’s my new high I chase.”
Using the skills she learned from BWROC, Jodi has also repaired her relationships including those with her family. She and her husband will be celebrating their 17th anniversary together next month.
“Things are just better at home. The fighting and the constant trying to make up a lie — that’s gone,” Jodi said. “My husband lost so much trust in me when I was acting that way and now it’s not like that at all. He can trust me and it took a lot of work to get back to where I am.”
Jodi attributes her success to BWROC and the love and support she’s received throughout her recovery journey. She encourages anyone who is struggling with a substance use disorder to seek support.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen when you’re walking into the world of recovery,” Jodi said. “I put myself in the hospital, I checked myself right out because I was treated so horribly. I almost didn’t even get a start before I even started because I had a bad experience, and then BWROC came along and gave me the hope and the strength to know that I can do it.”
“I love my son more than anything in this whole world,” Jodi said. “I’ve always wanted to be a mom and I’m ashamed of my behavior in the past. He deserves to have the best mom there is. I love taking my son to the park, reading books to him … and there was a while there where I was so out of control that I would do anything to not be home and that’s not who I am.”
In 2009, Jodi’s mother passed away and a few months later she broke her leg and hip in a car accident sparking a downward spiral in her life.
“My drug use went from I can control it, no one can tell, I go to work every day looking fine, I’m not late, I can hide it — to drinking a fifth every day,” Jodi said. “I was spending all the money I had on drugs, lying to my husband, taking bill money and not paying those because I’m blowing it all.”
After a big fight with her husband when his suspicions were confirmed about her substance use disorder, Jodi took off to stay in a hotel for a few days and had a major bender.
“When I decided to get clean, it was almost like a light bulb went off in my head. I came home, looked in the mirror and I looked terrible,” Jodi said. “I was just like, ‘What the hell am I doing with myself? I’m not this person, I love my family.’ So I put myself in detox.”
After four days at the hospital undergoing detoxification, Jodi checked herself out due to a bad experience but was determined to continue her journey to recovery.
Jodi is actively engaged in BWROC and is a frequent presence when opportunities arise to show her support. Jodi said she was honored to participate in the Boat Night parade last summer with BWROC, at the time three months sober.
“When I was walking in that parade with their float, I got so emotional walking with them,” Jodi said. “Looking back to where I was three months ago and now I’m standing proud, walking tall with a group of people that support me and have my back — it was just a wonderful feeling. I always feel like if I’m down, sad, scared or mad that I can walk into those doors and it doesn’t even matter if it was my sponsor or not, I could sit down and talk to somebody and they would help me and they actually care.”
Today, Jodi has reached over one year of sobriety and has made strides in restoring her life.
Through her work with Nicole, Jodi identified her passion for the beauty industry and now works as a Beauty Advisor at Ulta Beauty as well as waitressing at an Irish Pub.
“I started just seeing her blossom and grow because she was doing something that she was so passionate about,” Nicole said. “That’s the goal here is let’s find something that’s more suitable for you that you’re happy doing — and she did that. You could see these changes happen in her, inside and outside.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, learn more about what you can do by contacting the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center at (810) 689-4858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.