If you’ve turned on your television or computer recently, chances are likely you recognize Russell Brand and his over the top antics. The English comedian, actor, radio host, and author is widely known for his drug addiction problems and most recently for his strong opinions concerning politics, recovery and the criminalization of substance abuse which has attracted popular media coverage. His story and the passion from which he speaks- at times comedic or shocking and too bold, too honest to be anything but authentic make him an engaging voice in recovery today.
He used drugs to cover up the hurt and anger he felt.Russell Edward Brand was born in Essex, England and had his theatre debut at the age of 15 in a school production of Bugsy Malone. Brand attended Grays School Media Arts College and in 1991, he was accepted to the Italia Conti Academy. Brand performed stand-up for a number of years before leading his first one man comedy show, and has since toured through the United States, Australia and Europe. He gained attention using his comedy as a confessional account of his years of drug abuse; had his first major film role in St Trinian’s in 2008, and his breakout role to worldwide celebrity status in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
In writing for The Guardian, Brand said of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman:
“There is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead.”
Having been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder, he’s suffered from bulimia and went through a period of self-harming as a result of being sexually abused by a tutor at the age of seven. Having strained, unhealthy relationships with his parents who have been separated most of his life, Brand left home at 16 and began using a plethora of illegal drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
He has said its impossible to accurately describe the effectiveness heroin has in neutralizing pain, which he used drugs to cover up the hurt and anger he felt. Despite having ten years of sobriety, he admits he still suffers from cravings. Describing the great life and positive outlook he has today, he says the price for the gift of sobriety is a constant vigilance and understanding that the disease of addiction is not rational.
“I think it’s the responsibility of other people who have that condition and society at large to create a context where (addiction) is regarded as a disease and not as a crime,” he told Oprah in an interview.
Russell Brand’s drug addiction, while having given him a confessional stance for the comedy that won him popular recognition, has also given him a unique perspective to engage in and discuss recovery and sobriety. Listening to Russell Brand or reading his writing, it’s clear he speaks from experience, not simply because of the circumstances he has described of his youth, but the insight he brings to struggle of addiction. His ideas of rehabilitation and the de-criminalizing of substance abuse as well as the heartfelt candor from which he speaks demonstrate an individual in recovery who believes passionately about the ability of others to recover as well.