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Russell Brand Revisits His Junkie Past

The comedian, who is seen smoking smack in a new documentary, admits that even at 10 years clean, "I'd rather be a drug addict."

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Russell Brand at 29, a "proper little junkie."
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By Valerie Tejeda

08/06/12

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A new documentary about comedian Russell Brand lays bare the lifelong grip addiction can hold on an individual—even one with long-term recovery. In Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery, BBC3 follows the 37-year-old as he goes back to visit the Focus 12 Centre in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where he got clean in 2002. The program shows disquieting footage of Brand in his 20s, leaning over the heated foil to smoke heroin before leaning back against the wall and staring dead-eyed in to the camera; it then flashes forward to Brand in present day, watching the old clip with his friend Martino Sclavi at the London Savoy Hotel. Referring to his young self as “a proper little junkie,” Brand says: "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. 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."

The Rock Of Ages star has been clean for 10 years, and has been candid about his various addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex) and his struggles in sobriety. He has been a public voice for addiction and recovery, even speaking in UK parliament about his belief that addiction should be treated as a disease rather than a criminal issue. “The consequences of my actions affected so many people,” he says in the documentary, displaying a radical level of candor—even for Brand. “Heroin is a greedy drug. First it’ll take your money. Then it’ll take your friends, your family, your car, your house. Then it’s going to take bits of your body. In the end I used to be scoring with people that had eyes missing, limbs missing.” He added: “You’ll take it until it takes your life. It’ll take everything until the last thing and you’ll gladly give it that rather than give up drugs. When you are a drug addict, the idea of not taking drugs is inconceivable. This was the beginning of a life-long journey of doing things differently.”

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