A Forever Recovery CEO Per Wickstrom Speaks to Audience at National Baptist Convention's 11th Annual Health Fair

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Sponsor of this event, A Forever Recovery founder Per Wickstrom addressed attendees at the National Baptist Convention’s 11th Annual Health Fair held at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

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Wickstrom told the audience. 'It seems to me that addiction has a lot to do with prison population; where we take our young men and women that get convicted of a non-violent crime, a drug charge, and instead of rehabilitating them, we imprison them.'

On June 22nd-26th, 2015, the Cobo Convention Center in the heart of Downtown Detroit was the site of the National Baptist Convention 110th Annual Session of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education Health and Wellness Initiative. Focusing on encouraging and promoting the collaboration of churches and their congregations, medical professionals and health-related organizations, this week long event included the 11th Annual “Health Outreach and Prevention Education” (H.O.P.E.) Health Fair. A Forever Recovery, an open-ended holistic treatment center for addiction located in Southwest Michigan, sponsored the Health Fair, hosting workshops, a leadership luncheon and a sponsor booth, where information was available for those interested in learning more about addiction and treatment options.

On Thursday, June 25th, A Forever Recovery founder and CEO Per Wickstrom had the opportunity to address the convention attendees, discussing the state of addiction in today’s society and treatment options that are available. One of the main focuses of his speech was the need for rehabilitation rather than incarceration for those facing minor drug possession charges. “Right now, the United States has the most prisoners, and you kind of sit back and wonder why that is,” Wickstrom told the audience. “It seems to me that addiction has a lot to do with prison population; where we take our young men and women that get convicted of a non-violent crime, a drug charge, and instead of rehabilitating those people, we imprison those people.”

Wickstrom also touched on the financial aspect of the imprisonment of low-level drug offenders. “We have costs as high as $60,000 to incarcerate an individual for a year. Rehabilitation costs a third of that. Not only could we help put people back in our communities, but we could help the economy by taking people out of jail and putting them in rehabilitation, helping them become members of their communities again.”

Per Wickstrom founded A Forever Recovery after overcoming his own addiction, which he had struggled with for years before finding a recovery program that worked for him. He had also had his own legal problems that stemmed from his substance abuse, and has personally seen the ineffectiveness of incarceration in an individual’s ability to overcome addiction, about which he also spoke to the audience. “There was a time that I was in a jail in Florida, that I was at my rope’s end,” he said, “and if I didn’t get that help that I needed, I wouldn’t be here today helping people. That guy that you’re looking at today that needs help might be the guy tomorrow that stands up here and has the ability to help thousands of people.”

A Forever Recovery supports the efforts of law enforcement agencies in their objective of getting drugs off of the streets and out of the community, and defends the idea that drug dealers and traffickers should face strict legal consequences. However, Wickstrom believes that rehabilitation of low-level drug offenders who are struggling with addiction is a more socially and fiscally responsible alternative to imprisonment, which costs taxpayers millions and virtually destroys any chance of the individual becoming a functioning and productive member of society. “It is our hope that, by reaching out to others who are concerned about the state of our communities and the problems of drug and alcohol abuse that we face as a nation today, we are able to make a difference in the lives of those who have been affected by addiction,” Wickstrom commented after the event. “If we stand together, united, we can beat this thing called addiction. We can truly make our world a better, safer and healthier place to live, with more opportunity for the future of our nation.”

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