Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery

Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery

2012, Drugs  -   82 Comments
Ratings: 8.02/10 from 393 users.

Cannabis, booze, acid, speed, coke, crack, heroin... Russell took drugs every single day. At one point he started being afraid of the fact that he might die. He was told that if he continues like that, in six month time, he's going to be dead, in prison, or in an asylum. He got clean at the age of 27, the age Amy Winehouse was when she died. Amy's death was a paradoxical, unsurprising shock, and Russell felt like he could have done something to help.

That's why he made this film, to have a sympathetic look at alcoholism and addiction, a condition that the World Health Organization regards as a disorder. He reckons that drugs and alcoholism are much misunderstood by users, non-users, and the government. He thinks that we need to start regarding addiction in all its forms as a health issue as opposed to the judicial and criminal issue. In this film he wants to learn more and see if we can do things differently.

Brand meets a whole range of people from whom he draws insights - scientists at the cutting edge of research into the psychology of addiction, those involved in innovative recovery treatments and drug addicts themselves.

Is addiction a disease? Should it be criminalized? And is abstinence-based recovery, which worked for Brand, a possible way forward? In this documentary Brand challenges conventional theory and practice as well as government policy in his own inimitable style, confronting the reality of addiction head on.

Along the way he draws on his own experience to try to help one of the addicts he meets to take the first steps towards recovery. Armed with his own heartfelt beliefs and new insights gained during his journey, Brand has the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of policy makers when he is invited to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee investigating the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment in the UK. - BBC Three.

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2 years ago

Jim, Well said. Jason, I don’t know why it would be wrong for an addict, regardless of time in recovery, to try to bring to light some things others may not be aware of. Addicts in every stage of recovery have valid hope, strength and experiences to share. I’m always learning from others regardless of their time in recovery.

5 years ago

The guy is a joke, he is sober a short time and all of a sudden he is a expert on recovery, why not ask someone who has been in recovery for 30+ years , but i guess they only wont celebs.

Nigel Harris Price BA Hons Cert Ed
5 years ago

Brilliant documentary, Russell! Near the knuckle and to the point...Nigel

Nigel Harris Price BA Hons Cert Ed
5 years ago

There was alcohol in our family as I grew up. There was art college, where I started on nicotine and briefly marijuana. My alcohol intake worsened in California as did my Bipolar Disorder. A suicide attempt and coming back to Devon did not stop binges. Only when I learned to become an Adult Education teacher in my Craft of Precious Metals did the 'grip' loosen. I now drink socially and sensibly (I still smoke moderately). I have something worthy in myself and would wish to pass on the craft to recovering addicts to help with their self-esteem. I live in the Cynon Valley, South Wales, where poverty, lack of employment and, therefore, addiction runs riot. I have lived in social housing and experienced much. I am lucky. I want others to be blessed...Nigel

6 years ago

What a sadly disappointing and misinformed documentary. Shaming the woman for worrying about her dog shows what how uninformed and patronizing Russell's attitude is towards addiction 'treatment'.' Thankfully we could briefly hear the wisdom and compassion of the doctor who offers an understanding of trauma and the need for treatment with opiates. Prescription heroin and safe injection sites not only save lives but allow users to lead healthy, meaningful lives. Best wishes on the journey!

7 years ago

I'm a card carrying member of AA and it is not a cult. The courts might you send you there for a period of time but it is purely a choice if you remain there. Nothing is forced on you while you are there. It is purely suggestive. Atheist and agnostic are welcomed. Their primary purpose is to help people get sober. You can come and go anytime you like. To say anything opposite of that about the program would also suggest that you don't know what you are talking about. Maybe that you are a tad uneducated and maybe have a problem yourself. The program works if you work it.

7 years ago

Abstinence, huh? Save us please ! ! This guy is into self promotion and I would not be surprised to learn he has narcissistic, emotionally unstable personality disorder, craves attention, and wouldn't be above falsifying facts to promote himself for personal gain. I came across drug addicts in my career - the long and the short of it was that there were no "resources" apart from rare inpatient detox clinics but no community follow-up (absolutely vital component missing). The "clients" were frequently referred to other community resources unable to take them as their criteria did not fit. I watched people beg, implore for help. They could only go so far themselves. Only one in nine can make it. RB's story sounds far fetched; that is to say multiple addictions class "A" drugs. He probably still abuses substances but to a lesser degree.

7 years ago

Phantastic documentary. I watched it recently in a rehab in SouthAfrica. Specifically the adressing of us addicts as people with a deadly incurable desease / or us more seen as criminals of our actions. Difficult though from point of view of victims, family and friends. And I agree with Russel: Best is to find, however that will be possible a way of life without fokkin substances! Anything else, my humble observation in about 25 years active using, anything else will take my back to my cave... Why not sell dope in supermarkets? Or rocks? The whole discussion legal , illegal is crap anyway. U will get anything anywhere, whateer age u r, its somehow ridiculous to try and contain that via draconic rules. My friends in thailand, where u do have death penalty still for drug related crimes, still traffic and do as they please despite "possibility of near death experiences...hahaha" so please...wake up! Unfortunately as an addict I wont wake up unless something really painful happens to me, so painful that even drugs are not an option any more. Which was for me not death, severe psychotic episodes, violence nor imprisonment. Its kindof intimate...

Cindy sheets
7 years ago

Russell I watched your film on addiction and was very impressed with your speech to parliament. I have struggled most of my 54 years with drugs and alcohol. Rehab 3 times (1 was court ordered). Abstinent 2 years then 4 years. I was severely injured and prescribed hydrocodone, Vicodin ES, etc. I became addicted of course. I was also drinking. I decided go get on Methadone. For almost five years I did drink. Doing other drugs ( opiates) on top DOES NOT WORK! Unless it's a very low dose it's simply addictive behavior and wishful thinking! Anyway, the alcohol stopped and the other drugs ( mostly cocaine) had ended after an arrest years before the methadone started. Today, I have a a good bank account, I'm an investor ( stocks, bonds, an artist- a good one too! AND I have owned my small farm with horses, dog and cats all since starting on Methadone. I mention this because in your film you constantly said that EVERYONE needs to be completely abstinent to reach their potential. That they are under the influence of drugs while on methadone and will stay in place. That simply IS NOT TRUE FOR ALL ADDICTS RUSSELL! I will agree that a lot of people abuse the program ( methadone) for that matter look at the failure rate of AA and NA! I'm simply saying you are being predjudice about DOES work for some people

8 years ago

And I just have to say we as tax payers pay for people to be in the judicial system and for what? I have had a close member go through that system and it didn't help them. I don't want to start on that topic except to sat the system is not beneficial and we need to rehtink our strategies in helping the community because I work with people like that everyday and not the person directly but their children and it isn't fair what they have to go through it is survival mode and it sucks!

8 years ago

I only hope that Russel Brand would contact me one day on drug abuse in Canada and discover that it happens all over the world. I have tried to contact him and say that the war on drugs is not over. It wont ever be because of reasons I cannot discuss on the internet or I will get blocked if I don't already. It is too bad that celebrities make films but then they don't communicate with the people that understand them oh well

8 years ago

I forgot to say it is a mental health issue and people need help! Just as if you had depression or anxiety . drug addiction is the same!

8 years ago

It isn't about support groups it's about legalizing drugs. When people realize that some can do drugs for socializing and others can't. I recently viewed the Russel Brown documentary on the stop to war on drugs and it made me realize that I will always want to be an addict however i choose not to be. That I believe is the hardest part. Whatever for some people, makes you feel good in life is bad. But be careful where that saying is used. Some people have found many other forms of life other than alcohol and drugs that give them that same feeling believe it or not. I know I have a a hard time believing it!

8 years ago

Most of you should consider yourselves very fortunate. It's pretty clear that most of the people posting opinions here are not alcoholics or addicts. It's easy to see the ones that are. There are certain 'truths' that exist, things you really can only understand, if you've gone through it. Some non addicts here are more knowledgeable than others. But lots of you simply don't and can't understand. And consider yourselves lucky, because going through addiction and recovery is the hardest thing someone can go through. I've been through a lot of crap in my life and getting better was way harder than anything I've done.

My only fault with the documentary is that it is too short, it switches around and doesn't go deep enough into some of the areas. But it has the perspective of someone who knows what the hell they are talking about. Trust me on that. You may not want to believe what is said but most if it is very true.

The 5% comment. I've heard this too, years ago, when I was digging up evidence to protect myself from having to join a cult. Well, after relapsing enough times to surrender, it's clear that the low numbers represent failure of individuals to be honest, committed, open to complete the program. So criticize how hard it is to get better, less so the program. Because if someone actually commits to it, the numbers are much better. It's all about whether the person actually does the work required, not enough do. And as far as being sucked in and dependent the rest of your life, yeah, it IS the rest of your life, it has to be. But that doesn't mean being heavily involved in the program like sheep, people should do what they have to do, for some, they need perpetual structure to help them stay together. If nothing more, it's a fall back so they eventually really get well. I know people that have not used for 7 years that are as much a user as they were they day before they entered a program. They still have work to do but at least they aren't out committing crimes.

Support groups. These support groups are the ONLY way recovery can work. The power in them lies in being around others who have empathy, they inherently understand what you are talking about. Going to a program of psychologists etc, that may work for some, but it really loses its power unless the people you are in there with have gone through it.

Re: "True addicts can't be helped, get clean, abstinence can't work". Not true. I've seen it work. How someone reaches abstinence, whether it's cold turkey or whether they need medical assistance to do it safely, these are the only questions. But the end result has to be abstinence, at least for true addicts. And it has to be for life, however the person can do that. People ask me in social situations whether it's hard to be 'around it'. For me, it can't be. I look at a bottle of beer as a death sentence, a loaded gun to my mouth. Because I know that I can't have one drink…EVERY. I know that odds are likely that I'll be drinking 2 fifths a day within a month, on the road to death. I know because I've been through it. And I've tried it all, cold turkey, "controlled drinking". These may work for some, but not for me and probably not for others like me. Replacing one drug with another changes the problem, it doesn't solve it.

8 years ago

I admire you for making this and stepping into such an issue with such a stigma. I agree with the person above....the majority of the population IS addicted to SOMETHING. It is ALL a MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE. THANK YOU!!!! Keep doing what you are doing!!!

8 years ago

McKegany says that a majority of the population isn't addicted… Not quite right, I would say. I see addiction as a means of compensation for something that is missing, emotionally, spiritually. I would argue a large majority of today's society is addicted in some ways or the other: to food, sugar, sex - you name it. His view on and definition of 'addiction' is too narrow… Great documentary!

8 years ago

great documentary

9 years ago

Methadone/Suboxone should be given to inpatients only and in a taper. The problem is when these meds are prescribed and addicts abuse these and then become addicted/dependent on these. Make sense?

9 years ago

i dont understand why he is against methadone/suboxone, he wants drug addiction to be treated as a medical condition, and how do you treat medical conditions? usually with medications, methadone/suboxone helps you stay away from opiates, im on it myself and it helps. ofc there are both ups and downs with it. but i rather be on suboxone than a heroin addict like i was

9 years ago

this documentary is a one sided dogmatic *look at my view and my view only* pile of crap. and brand? on his way to certain death? uh hu.
what 99% of these comments fail to recognize, realize, or understand is that addicts - real addics - have changed the way their brains function. this is fact. most addicts are well on their way by their teens - crucial changes never happen, however horrible changes do.
(i'm not talking about a 6 month pill popper....)
i know because i've done this to myself. to make the claim abstinence is the only real is the most irresponsible thing this i*iot has done to date. if he "really cared" about addicts, he'd be open to all paths of *recovery* irrelivant of what the are - just as long as they are.
to family members who've seen methadone or suboxone "destroy" loved ones - abstinence isn't some magical wonder. not when you're left craving and full of need....well after detox.....tearing you apart, 24/7 - you will just keep using. an addict will not stop until they're finished.....and for most, that outcome is just too scary to comprehend.

Laurie Orr
9 years ago

Why are you guys hating on Russell Brand? His perspective on drug addiction is spot on. The majority of people who become addicted to drugs & alcohol are living in hell. What starts as a way to escape personal pain ultimately brings more pain and hopelessness. Addicts don't use drugs, the drugs use them. Addiction takes everything from you until you are used up and empty. Recovery is a gift, the chance to get out. But it's not easy and for some , the process of facing the deep pain that is stiil there can be frightening & overwhelming. Abstinence from drug use moves an addict toward clarity, to face down the trauma & the hurt that the drugs & alcohol were masking. It requires a tremendous strength & resolve to stay clean & sometimes people don't make it. Very tragic I believe. I appreciate that Russell is using his celebrity voice to help others to move out of the darkness and to believe that there is hope.

Richard Passley
9 years ago

hahahah - Professor David Nut, hit the nail on the head when he (basically said.) "another reason why people get addicted to drugs is because they're good."

It's a harsh truth, BUT the truth. I've never done heroine before and (fingers crossed.) NEVER will. However, if you talk the most crack cocaine and heroine addicts, the vast majority will tell you that the reason why they are addicted to those drugs is because they're trying to chase/recreate that 1st ever hit the drug gave them. However and little do they know, that 1st hit is as good as it gets. Hence why those particular drugs are so addictive. Don't be naive, the high they give the user is that good.

I do fully believe that another reason why people get addicted to drugs is because there is a void in their lives OR the user is trying to block something out of their life. You don't have to have worked in social services to realise that many people addicted to drugs have experienced very traumatic things in their lives.

So how does the UK and the world deal with this drug problem? Again, the truth is, they can't. Again, many people don't realise that the "war on drugs" is one of the biggest scams EVER going. The Issue of drugs is obviously a huge vote winner for ANY Politician willing to to tell bare faced lies to the public, saying how they're willing to do this, that and the other to keep your kids safe!

IF the politician was genuine in his/her cursaude in this "war on drugs", why is the UK and other places on earth now awash with drugs? They're the politician's. They ultimately designed the rules and laws of the land?

Correct me IF I'm wrong but there is a war, currently raging in Afghanistan, the same place where (it's something like.) 70%+ of the world's opium is to be found. Why not devastate the poppy fields? That's a real "war on drugs!" Some heroine addict in the documentary basically say's, "this methadone programme does not work."

Wake up lad. You're NOT supposed to be helped! Your a potential massive vote winner when/If a brain dead politician is desperate for votes. They just bring up the "war on drugs" slogan, your face & desperate plight to "help" other kids going down the same road by getting their parents to vote for them.

So, what's the best way to defeat this drug problem. Just try and stay strong and keep away from them. Just remember, once you become addicted the harsh truth is:

1.) they are good

2.) you're not supposed to be helped! you've now allowed yourself to become in nothing more than a pawn in game, a game you probably didn't even know existed and that you NOW very much apart of - until you read this post.

9 years ago

great doc, highlighting the scandal of sending addicts to methadonia for life, govt funded recovery especially under Labour was about the 'money'. A heroin client is a cash cow that brings in revenue for the pharma companies and for the services, a client that uses the services in a revolving door way is brings in regular income as opposed to one that gets clean and sober and does not return. The NTA has a track success record of nearly zero, meaning that all the millions spent on methadone treatment has simply been wasted.
The comments questioning Russel Brands motives are disgusting and frankly only highlight the shocking lack of insight most people have in the UK, the US are light years ahead of us and see abstinence based programmes as a given. How dare people question Brands honesty and commitment to this issue, you are a bunch of armchair cavemen.

9 years ago

This is an interesting study of marginalizatiion, step one find a hack celebretard, step two produce a series of public broadcasts with celebretard as simpathetic to various good causes, step three throw the messages into the echo chamber until most of the public identifies the messages with the celebretard without seperation of the two,step four put the celebetard on the highest platform that the medias can build , step five kick the platform out from under the celebretard until the public identifies the celebretard as a hypocrite and a crackpot, step six when any conversation comes to public discourse regarding forementioned good causes conterarguements only need mention celebretards name to ridicule any discourse that may bring some real response by any mass actions to fix a purposely broken social system that pays , no boogie man = no boogie man hunters.boogie man laws are a savy lawyers rainmaking payday.

9 years ago

lots of love and respect for russell brand caring about addicts...being an addict myself it is really important to feel that people care and love about you

9 years ago

How can people talk down on Russell? This documentary was brilliant in all ways and you need to understand that it's impossible to talk about every issue concerning drug abuse in 1h.
He is clearly a man who cares about others aswell as the big picture.

Shame on you.

9 years ago

Russell Brand is annoying, but his doc expressed so powerfully what I have been thinking for years.
I've watched suboxone (an extremely expensive drug treatment)) and methadone add fuel to the downward spiral of the ones I love.
Where I live its 15,000 dollars per month for private treatment, and you're still put on methadone.
The publicly funded programs are nearly impossible to get into, and they too dole out the legal drugs, and the addicts I know, can't or won't stop taking them.
The makers of methadone et al must be making billions of dollars!
Amy's music throughout this doc was very haunting and moving. I got the sense that she was urging along Brand's message.

Bella Button
9 years ago

Best addiction documentary I've ever seen !!!

Steve the workers advocate
9 years ago

His career is dead another publicity stunt, lets see just about %50 of the population uses cannabis, booze and many teens and twenty somethings do acid no all the time, many people used coke at parties. Let lie detector to see if he used or tried crack and heroin, tried is
most likely it or he would still have some issues. Nice publicly
stunt I guess anything for money now Russell acting is done hmm.

9 years ago

i disagree with his views toward addiction being a disease...that's nonsense peddled by cults like AA and in my mind is akin to sugarcoating the situation. Addiction is not a disease, and it's also wrong that people consider themselves to always be addicts even though they've been clean and sober for x years. This is a defining symptom of a cult, something that forces you to live a life that involves never letting go.

Abstinence based recovery groups like AA have a mindbogglingly low success rate, only 5%. for every hundred people that go through AA, only 5 make it the whole way through! That's exactly the same chance you have of succeeding on your own. This is hard to find out because they don't publish their rates of success, for this very reason. My figure comes from the episode of 'Penn and Tellers Bullsh*t' on this very subject.

Abstinence based rehab organizations like AA are cults in every definition of the word. as already mentioned they worm their way into your life as a permenant fixture. They prey on vulnerable people, often people who are forced to their clutches by courts, and then they break them down until they accept pretty much no responsibility for their life, with pathetic excuses like "it's a disease" and then they force their victims to become a slave to an unspecified "higher power" That's right, Athieists need not apply, if you're an addicted athieist you're pretty much screwed because AA will refuse to help you until you recant your athieism, which it treats like a part of the "Disease" any other place in the western world that would be called a forced conversion and it would be illegal, but for the cult of AA it's A-ok!

All the same though, however he did it if it worked for him then fair play. i'm glad he got through it and was able to start doing what he wanted with his life but people ought to know the truth behind these awful organizations..

9 years ago

I loved this doc and also think it hits on some points that are often conveniently missed/overlooked. For example the Methadone for the poor and Rehab for the Rich thing. It might seem like a small thing but as a former habitual character I assure you it's not.

I remember a few years back how much I disliked Russell Brand and how I thought he was a vacuous blow-hard, waste of space cock-bag and symptomatic of what the TV Zeitgeist was about. How times have changed. John Steward aside, there are very few media people that grab my attention this much nowadays. Obviously Russell still has issues with regards to the amount of attention his ego needs but I have no hesitation in over-looking that if he keeps his motormouth geared the way it is at the moment.

9 years ago

I thought Russel Brand's appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee was cohesive, more impressive than I anticipated & hopefully most of all effective.

The most visceral point of this documentary for me was when he was interviewing the two women in their living room. The titillation, as he explained afterward, that he experience while handling their kit & drugs, seemed absolutely palpable. The fulcrum in his conversation with them & his own sobriety was when one of them stated: "You don't have to worry because you know you will never use again." & Russel turned to her & with an intense look & strained tone of voice responded: "No I don't." (paraphrased conversation)

Good on Russel Brand for making this film. I trust it wasn't just an act of contrition & penance for his past "sins". He genuinely seems sincere. I hope he reaches many people in need of help & enables positive change in their lives. More power to him.

*Edit* @ the moderators: My apologies if an earlier response to a comment was not appropriate. (I see it is gone) It was not intended to be an attack on the commenter, it's just that I found his manifesto to be a little off-putting.

9 years ago

Made me a little nervous for Brand, watching him around all those drugs he used to use. I'd agree with him, though, that better efforts to address the addiction could also reduce a good deal of the crime that so often goes along with it... Who could argue with that, really? It does appear that when the state treats addicts as criminals, it ends up costing it more money in the long run, and yet I know the problem isn't that simple. For sure, you can't just let people get away with crime, but the Brighton (Brighton, England! What an unexpected, lovely surprise!) Police Chief himself said that 80% of acquisitive crime there is ultimately due to addiction, so something somewhere isn't working as well as one could hope. All I know is, if I could work miracles, I'd be one of the best miracle workers you could ever hope for, and no one, anywhere, would ever have to suffer a life like that.