Emmy and Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen will speak about his views on substance abuse at a conference at Western Michigan University next week.
Sheen, popularly known for his roles in films such as “Wall Street” and “The Badlands,” or television roles like in “West Wing,” also serves as a drug treatment advocate in his spare time. Sheen is an activist for social justice and peace issues and was the first “all rise ambassador” for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). Over the past ten years, Sheen has supported drug courts and participated in commercials, rallies, U.S. Senate meetings and a variety of other venues in support of NADCP.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, Sheen and other speakers will talk about how Kalamazoo residents can combat substance abuse in their community at the fifth annual Coming Together conference in WMU’s Fetzer Center.
“The purpose of this event is to reach out to the community to start and to continue a conversation about the abuse of substances and also the possibilities and hopes for recovery,” said Judge William Schma, the president of the Drug Treatment Court Foundation and a retired circuit court judge. “We seek to educate the community and professionals about substance abuse disorders and recovery issues.”
“Coming Together: A Community Conference on Addiction and Recovery” is an event hosted collaboratively by the Drug Treatment Court Foundation and the Community Healing Center in Kalamazoo.
Schma said one of the main goals of the conference is to eliminate the stigma attached to drug users.
“Substance abuse is a disease, just like hypertension, a heart disease, etc. It needs treatment or it goes out of control, just like all those other disorders. The stigma is that people think that it’s a moral issue. People think that there’s something – some personality deficiency in people who abuse substances,” he said.
The conference is designed to involve community members, businesses and other organizations in a conversation about how to reduce this stigma and spread awareness about the many programs and tools in the Kalamazoo community that assist in drug use recovery.
“The message is that substance use disorders and addiction recovery are public health issues. We have to treat them as such. It’s not a moral issue. The community has to step up to learn about it, address it and make its own contributions to eradicate it,” said Schma.
The conference will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast, at which Sheen and Earl Hightower will facilitate a discussion. Hightower is a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor who has received awards for his interventions. The breakfast is free open to the public, but registration is required. The conference following the breakfast is open to professionals wishing to participate in the breakout sessions and discussions throughout the rest of the conference.
To register, contact John Johnson at (269) 343-1651 ext. 165 or register online.