Elijah Bennett

From a troubled youth struggling with addiction, to a now Certified Peer Recovery Coach for BWROC, Elijah Bennett is a shining example of recovery.

Bennett’s determination and fortitude, paired with a strong support system from friends, and the services provided by the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center (BWROC), has helped Bennett achieve goals he never could have imagined. He is now in position to help others achieve success in their journey on the road of recovery.

“BWROC is still instrumental in my recovery because they help me define and fulfill my main purpose in life, which is to help the next person who suffers the same way I did,” says Bennett.

The Blue Water Recovery & Outreach Center (BWROC) is a non – profit 501(c)3 recovery community organization (RCO) founded to help those struggling with addiction and connect them to recovery. What makes BWROC’s services unique and effective is that their staff has first-hand experience with battling the struggles of addiction and recovery, enabling them to provide the best pathways to resources and programs available. Although they provide non-clinical support and coaching, the peer-driven organization’s approach to recovery has been a huge success since it was established in September, 2017.

Elijah was born in Port Huron, MI. By the time he was five years old he was living on a military base with his parents where his father was stationed. He lived on the base until age 12 when he returned to Port Huron after his parents’ divorce. As a child he enjoyed playing sports, with basketball and football being his favorites.

Growing up in poverty Elijah began to experiment with alcohol at 14 years old, and as time progressed, he began to try stronger drugs, such as dextromethorphan, a drug found in cough medicines that produces euphoria and mind-altering effects. Elijah believes he has always had an addictive personality which is one of the reasons he believes things began to spiral out of control.

“I was seeking out connections and people that loved me and wanted me to be around and also as a coping mechanism for some things that happened to me. The lack of love and connection from my parents was a major issue for me. I stopped seeing my mom at 12 years old when my parents divorced, so I began to feel as if I was less than, so the alcohol and drug use began to fill that void I had. I didn’t realize this until way later down the road in my recovery, but the drugs made me feel cool and accepted by my peers,” says Bennett.

At the age of 19, Elijah experienced his first stay of many in the St. Clair County Jail. Between the ages of 19 and 24, he had been incarcerated a total of seven times. As bad as it may seem, jail may have been the very thing to help Elijah begin to turn his life around.

“In my six years of being an adult I had been to jail seven times, which means I averaged going to jail more than once a year. Going to jail was nothing to me at that point, but as I sat for a year I picked up the bible and a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) book. Up until that point I had experimented with multiple drugs such as, crack, methamphetamines, and psychedelics which eventually landed me in the psyche ward on two separate occasions. I had seen so many bad things during my time using drugs. I’ve had guns pulled on me multiple times, but one of the more scary moments was when I was in a raid. It’s different when it’s your own government pinning you on the ground with assault rifles pointed at you,” says Bennett.

Outside of reading the bible, Bennett met someone in jail who would help change his life forever.

“For about two weeks I was just pissed off, I didn’t want to come to terms or accept that this was happening in my life. One of the ways to get out of being in your cell is to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, so I went to this meeting for a friend in the cell with me. His name was Joshua, I’ll never forget him, he invited me so I went and broke down that first meeting. The message given resonated with me like it had never before and I began to look inward to start questioning my life’s choices and decisions. Another person who was instrumental in my recovery is currently my co-worker, Jimmy Dimon. We went to every meeting together and worked our 12 steps together as well,” Bennet says.

Dimon, who has watched Elijah grow from their time in jail together, says that Elijah’s biggest strength is his ability to relate to others with empathy and compassion, and it’s what makes him a successful Peer Recovery Coach for BWROC.

Fast forward to today, Elijah is a Certified Peer Recovery Coach, something he is very proud of, and rightfully so. He is a man who has seen the lowest of lows in his young life and lived to tell his story.

“Believe it or not I didn’t get to experience the recovery services that BWROC provides until I became a Peer Recovery Coach here, my path to recovery was solely through NA, but today they are instrumental in my path to recovery, being that recovery isn’t a destination, it’s more of a never-ending journey. BWROC helps me to connect with the community, helps me in giving back, and to make an overall difference, which is my biggest goal in life,” says Bennett.

Bennett applied to BWROC after being nudged to do so by a friend while attending a funeral. Although not the place one would expect such a conversation, the irony is that it gave life to a new chapter in Bennett’s story.

“I didn’t think I was ready for it, because I knew I had to get a certification, but they hired me based on potential due to the work I had been doing in the community up until that point. Shortly after being hired I achieved my current role as Certified Peer Recovery Coach. The entire staff here has helped open my eyes to the different pathways to recovery, and what it looks like outside of a whole. I can now name 12 different pathways that can help people in recovery. I understand on such a deeper level what recovery is and how to achieve it no matter what position a person is at in their life. I have received so much training, knowledge, and certifications since coming here, I am truly grateful,” says Bennett.

After four years and 10 months in recovery Elijah has flourished in his community, being free of any drugs or alcohol since leaving jail for the last time in 2020, he is leading others to what it feels like to experience being free of addiction. His goal is to attend college and obtain a Masters degree in social work, and to also become a Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP) Certified Substance Abuse Counselor.