Russell Brand Raises Money In U.K. To Develop ‘Recovery Communities’

By John Lavitt 01/21/14

The comedian recounted his own experiences with transitioning from addiction to sober living as the impetus for the new venture.

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Popular comedian and recovering addict Russell Brand has launched The Give It Up Fund in the United Kingdom to establish ‘recovery communities’ for addicts making the transition back to normative society. The purpose of the fund is to help provide a viable alternative for people leaving rehab who need more than just the typical sober living. With initial donations of £500,000, the fund is off to a good start.

Managed by Comic Relief, The Give It Up Fund will offer services during the challenging transitional period when so many relapses happen. The program will set-up support communities in three pilot areas in the U.K. Russell Brand described the philosophy behind the project when he said: “It's integral that people entering a life of abstinence after the chaos of addiction have stability, support and a role to play in the wider community… With this fund we have the opportunity to perform a kind of social alchemy turning hapless (often smelly) junkies into helpful busy bodies, pottering about and contributing."

As a recovering heroin addict and alcoholic, the backing of Brand offers the combination of his celebrity status with his first-hand experience in recovery: "It is ten years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has immeasurably improved. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook." Still, Russell Brand clearly remembers how tough the initial transition was from active drug addiction to a life of sustainable recovery. The ‘recovery communities’ will help people reenter society after rehab by providing local services such as housing, healthcare, career guidance, and fellowship.

Understanding the recovery communities as a step in the right direction, Gilly Green, Head of U.K. Grants at Comic Relief, described the reasoning behind the initial support for the project: "We’re looking forward to finding out more about the potential of recovery communities through these pilots and hearing more inspiring stories about how they can help people to recover from addiction.”

Take a look inside the comedian's trailer after last year's Give It Up show:

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.