Comedian and actor Russell Brand provided evidence at a drugs hearing regarding his own battle with addiction. MPs have long been embroiled in an effort to review current Government policy on the widespread problem. Even though the situation was serious, Brand could not stop himself with introducing some levity in his own very unique way.
Stage to perform
On arrival to the Home Affairs select committee, the comedian did not enter the room quietly. In fact he did the total opposite, walking in with a sense of pride and more than enough ‘swagger’. He then proceeded to give the committee’s MPs a coo-ee, as well as looking over to the public seats to whom he flashed his eyes and grinned.
Brand, who has been described as a drug addict, was invited to give testimony by chairman Keith Vaz in the hope that he would shed light on the matter in a way that only someone as free talking as Brand could.
Mr Vaz may have thought that he was adept at self-publicity after trying to use the committee as his method for greater notoriety and glory, but he was many leagues below Russell Brand, who simply stole the show.
The situation was similar to watching an early round FA Cup football match, where a full strength Premiership side takes on a non-league team. Brand was heard calling many of the MPs ‘mate’ and others he would refer to using their Christian names; he spoke loudly in one long speedy tirade during which there were bouts of laughter.
Vaz grew increasingly frustrated at Brand, who throughout the hearing would look over his shoulder to the public. He looked as if he found the whole situation hilarious, or was happy that there were spectators providing him with a stage on which he was able to perform.
Brand called for more money to be spent on these addicts, who should also be given more compassion. He said that the act of taking drugs should not be viewed as a ‘criminal or judicial matter’, but instead it should be understood as a health issue since addiction is a disease.
High costs associated with addiction
It was already stated last year by a think tank that the Government’s policies for dealing with drug use are flawed, and that the £3.6 billion that was being spent on targeting drug users could be better used elsewhere.
The same think revealed that England has around 320,000 problematic drug users, and that they are a drain on finances, costing £1.7 billion in benefits, £1.2 billion in childcare costs and a further £730 million for treatment programmes.