Brand tells MPs of drugs battle
Comedian Russell Brand has said he became addicted to drugs because of emotional and psychological difficulties, adding "it was rough".
The flamboyant film star said addiction should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal matter. He called for "abstinence-based recovery" as he gave evidence about his own battle with addiction to MPs reviewing the Government's drugs policy.
Brand has given frank accounts of his battle to overcome drug addiction and has said society needs to change the way it views addicts.
Brand, who arrived at the hearing wearing a black hat, gold chains and crosses and a torn black vest top, said he was not calling for "a free for all where everyone goes around taking drugs".
Addicts will always be able to get drugs, he said, whether they are illegal or not. However he added he was not qualified to talk about legalisation. Instead, he said addiction should be treated as an illness and society should recognise that addicts, with the proper help, can become active and useful members.
He said society should not "discard people, write them off on methadone and leave them on the sidelines". Instead, society should "neutralise the toxic social threat they pose as criminals".
Asked if there should be a carrot and stick approach, he said it should be more about "love and compassion".
Speaking rapidly and addressing committee members by their first names, Brand dismissed suggestions that addicts cared where their drugs came from or the consequences of their production.
"I don't think they're going to be affected by that because they're normally on drugs," he said. Asked about the role of celebrities, he said: "Who cares about bloody celebrities?"
Brand said that, instead, he wanted to offer people "truth and authenticity".