On the tenth anniversary of his recovery, comedian Russell Brand invited Matters of Substance backstage to the final show of his Australia and New Zealand tour. We talked about recovery, pears, and his pro-recovery activism. Happy 10 years in recovery, Russell.
Q Everyone says it's kind of a big deal.
A: The 10 years and everything? I'm really happy about that. It's a day for extra gratitude I suppose, you really have to reflect on what it was like when you were drinking and using. So ten years of abstinence, from drinking and drugs, is good. I'm very happy.
[Takes a bite of pear]
I still eat pears though. Like a maniac. I can't stop. If I had to give these up. God, I'd rather die.
Q: Being a celebrity and all, do you feel an extra weight of having to show the recovery?
A: No. I don't. Being a celebrity, that's abstract, innit?
Q: You're in the public eye, everyone knows you've used, that you're in recovery. Is there a sense of obligation then?
A: No. I've got it the same. For me, I've got the same disease as anyone else. It affects me the same way as everyone else.
Q: But you're in a different position than anyone else.
A: That don't make no difference to me.
Q: But it makes a difference to other people.
A: But that's not my business. That's what my programme is: what goes on with other people — good or bad or indifferent — that's up to them. What goes on in here... [points to head] that's my programme. That works for me.
Q: What is recovery?
A: Don't take drugs. Don't drink. One day at a time.
Q: Is that it?
A: Yeah. On a basic level, that's it. Maybe get into a higher power if you want to. But for me, my recovery is one day at a time and don't drink don't take drugs.
Q: One of the things you've done recently, you had a bit of a crack at politicians in the UK about the war on drugs. What you were trying to do was education on addiction and you talked about the failure of the War on Drugs. What was the message you were bringing to those lovely people?
A: That drug addiction is a disease not a crime. A lot of it is the result from crime activity, not just the problem. I'm saying something they already know.
Q: do you think people in the recovery community should get more engaged in the policy debates around drug policy, the criminalisation.
A: I don't mind what people do. I mean, like for me what I think is that I'll just do what I can do. Obviously I think it would be better if people who knew about addiction were in charge of the treatment of addiction, rather than don't know anything about it. Just the same as with agriculture
Q: Final question. Can I get a hug?
Check out this pick-a-path live-action drama series on YouTube that follows a teenage boy and his encounters with drugs.
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