Apr 2012 27

by Darrah de jour

“There’s a degree of cowardice and willful ignorance around this condition.”

– Russell Brand

Testifying before the UK Parliamentary Committee Tuesday, comedian/actor Russell Brand shed light on the disease of addiction. Already perceived as recalcitrant by the somewhat condescending, but well-meaning bunch, he nonetheless tamed down his usual giddiness/mania (saving it for the finale). Brand chose, instead, to peacock with his floor-length leather jacket, allowing his expertise in recovery and addiction to lead quite impressively.

“There’s some confusion and ignorance around addiction, and it’s quite understandable. A lot of drug addicts, speaking personally, are anti-social…Being arrested is not a lesson. It’s an administrative blip… [when] I had access to abstinence-based recovery I was able to…all but obliterate my criminal activity, apart from the occasional skirmish,” the funny man said.

With the aim of providing firsthand knowledge about addiction, the former heroin-addict (and admitted recovering sex addict) who was arrested eleven times, stressed that addiction is an illness, and thus a health issue – not a judicial one.

“We need to have more compassionate, altruistic, loving attitudes [toward addicts]” he says, levying that his mentor, Chip Somers, the founder of Focus 12, has a rap sheet as long as his arm, including armed robbery, but after twenty-six sober years, is a responsible, contributing member of society.

“What’s significant is the way we socially regard addiction,” Brand said. “The criminalization of addicts is symbolic and not functional.”

He advised the Committee to address the “social, mental and spiritual” problems that are leading people to use drugs. He emphasized that this is not just something that affects young people (as the Committee remained focused on) but all ages. He also delineated that not all people that use drugs are addicts, but for ones that are, he passionately believes in abstinence-only treatment, with awareness and compassion for addicts.

Brand called for resources to be reallocated from criminalizing petty possession to research and treatment of addiction. He also stressed that simply doling out Methadone and other state-sponsored drug “treatments” is futile, and that the UK needs to have accompanying abstinence-based programs for addicts, since most Methadone users, he said, are supplementing the use with other drugs both legal and illegal. Brand makes no distinction between legal and illegal drugs, or alcohol, noting keenly that “young people will always wanna get high.”

High note (pun, uh, intended): Brand quotes “the great” Tupac Shakur at 10:25.

[Full video of Russell Brand and Chip Somers’ testimony in the video above.]


Post-feminist sex and sensuality expert Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her doggie Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah takes a fresh look at females in America. Twice a month, she also co-hosts SG Radio on Subscribe to her blog at, friend her on Facebook, and Listen to her wax sensual at

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