British comedian and former husband of pop star, Katy Perry, Russell Brand is as outrageously outspoken as he is witty, brilliant, and unabashed. The 40 year old UK native came to fame with the success of his stand up comedy specials and leading role in “Get Him To the Greek.” A strange character in the Hollywood scene, Russell’s grungy look and multiple tattoos cause many people to write him off early in his career; however, had they taken a moment to see the man beneath the scarves and bangles, they would discover a brilliant mind, a sharp wit, and a compassionate heart.
From childhood Russell Brand struggled with very adult troubles: his curiosity, confusion, and loneliness gave birth to an addictive personality. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the actor and comedian admitted that his problems with addiction began with food, then pornography, before finally progressing to drugs and alcohol. Raised by a single mother, Brand battled difficult feelings with of isolation and inadequacy, telling Oprah that he used drugs as a means of coping with the turmoil.
UK- based news site, Independent News, quotes Russell in his interview with Oprah:
“I couldn’t cope with being me. I look to solve inner problems with external things. I’ll use anything to stop myself feeling, and as a little kid I was very lonely and confused. Anything that could temporarily relieve that, I was very grateful for. When you take drugs out of that equation, those issues remain.”
Russell Brand’s substance abuse caused him to be perceived as abrasive and trouble-making in his early career, with much of his notoriety stemming from his 12 arrest during active use. However, in 2002 Brand stopped drinking and abusing alcohol, sobering up and working diligently to repair his reputation.
In the 13 years since, Brand is dedicated to spreading understanding and awareness for the disease. He regularly makes posts to his blogs and social media pages expressing his thoughts regarding substance abuse health care, equality, and other political subjects. His comments following the deaths of Seymour Hoffman and Amy Winehouse, expressing the dire need for the public to understand that addiction is a disease and without proper treatment, the disorder is fatal.
Beyond being vocal and active for the cause of ending the stigmas associated with addiction, Russell Brand also supports ten charities and over a dozen causes, including poverty, homelessness, and mental health. Though he is still a controversial figure in the public eye, Brand is using his notoriety and fame to draw attention to worthy causes and advocacy. I hope the sad, lonely child he was so long ago can now be proud of the man he grew to be.
Image: “Russell Brand” by Eva Rinaldi. Licensed under CC by 2.0.
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