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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Russell Brand has always rubbed me the wrong way. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but I think it’s as shallow as the fact that he is always talked about in terms of his extreme promiscuity with women, yet he looks strikingly like Weird Al Yankovic. Am I the only one who sees this? What do women seeing in him? It’s can’t just be fame and money because, he somehow snagged Katy Perry, who has plenty of fame and money on her own – far more than Russell, who will probably be known as “the former Mr. Katy Perry” for years to come.
However, as much as he annoys me, I will admit I gained a bit of respect for Brand after learning recently that he is a former drug addict. Of course, I don’t respect him for being a drug addict, but I do respect him greatly for overcoming his addiction and remaining clean and sober for more than a decade now. Not only does he work hard to keep himself in check, but he is open and honest about his addictions in order to campaign and help others still battling theirs. Annoying or not, that is a mighty fine thing to do.
The BBC has created a documentary called Russell Brand: From Addition to Recovery, which takes a close look at what the comedian has dealt with in his fight to remain sober. The documentary even includes footage of a twenty-something Brand smoking heroin.
Brand insists that it is still very hard to remain sober, and even watching the footage of his past self getting high makes him jealous.
"This is when you know it's a disease. It doesn't matter that I was sat in that flat in Hackney and now I'm in the Savoy [An upscale hotel in London]. I'm jealous of me then. It doesn't make a difference to me. The money, the fame, the power, the sex, the women – none of it. I'd rather be a drug addict."
That is a very powerful statement about the hold addiction has on people. They would give up everything good in their life for a drug.
Despite nearly a decade of sobriety, Brand still attends AA meetings three times a week to ensure he remains on track. He has also taken to fighting for different – more compassionate – legal action to be taken against criminal drug addicts.
"By regarding addiction as an illness, by offering treatment instead of a more punitive approach, we can prevent people from committing crimes," Brand told members of Parliament who were reviewing U.K. drug policy. "Personally, I was a criminal when I was a drug addict by virtue of my addiction and the ways that I had to acquire money to get drugs."
Brand also pleaded with the committee, "I think there needs to be love and compassion for everybody involved … If people are committing criminal behavior, then it needs to be dealt with legally, but you need to offer them treatment."
Although we may have never been addicted to heroin or alcohol like Brand, we all know how hard it is the change – change your mind, change your beliefs, change your habits – it takes unflagging dedication and the willingness to admit your faults. And for that, I will admit Brand has won some of my respect. (But I still don’t think he’s funny.)