Russell Brand Talks Addiction Charity Work

By McCarton Ackerman 12/21/16

“The most important thing in my life is where I interface with the things that keep me clean and sober and interconnected.”

Russell Brand
Photo via YouTube

After 13 years of sobriety, Russell Brand is now devoting much of his free time to helping others achieve the same lifestyle.

The comedian and actor has spent the past year as the patron of Changes UK, an addiction charity based in the city of Birmingham. He appeared at a dinner last week in support of the charity and told the Birmingham Mail that he looks to do more with them.

“The most important thing in my life is where I interface with the things that keep me clean and sober and interconnected,” said Brand. “I hope I do a variety of work going forward, but this is not something I can really control. I don’t make plans any more.”

Changes UK made headlines last year by launching Recovery Central, the first alcohol-free bar in Birmingham. For Brand, innovative measures that provide social outlets like the dry bar are an essential component to helping people stay sober.

“I just thought it was brilliant. It was really informal. I liked how clients talked about ... how empowered they were. There was an easygoing-ness about it. This charity feels different to a lot of other addiction charities around the UK,” said Brand. “I was impressed by the social enterprise component to it. When you’re clean from drugs, you have a lot of time on your hands and it’s great to see people directing their time and energy in this way.”

"As I have a drink and drug problem, I have social issues which prohibit me going out, [but] I can go to cafes. I’m allowed limited doses of coffee,” he added. “That’s why the idea of a dry bar like Recovery Central is a brilliant idea. There is good food, good people, good atmosphere.”

Brand has been drug and alcohol-free since 2003, and also went to rehab in 2007 to address sex addiction. In recent years, he’s become an advocate for the recovery community and urged the British Parliament to see drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal one. Last September, he donated his east-London based Trews Era Café to a local addiction recovery organization, the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt).

The comedian is even set to release a book next September that will serve as a guide to addiction recovery, delving into his own experiences as a “proper little junkie” and how he got sober.

“I believe that we are all on the addict spectrum, that the object of addiction is less important than the condition, and that in recovering as individuals, we can change the world,” said Brand in a press release for the book. “This book describes the way I work my program and how it can work for anyone.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.