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Russell Brand: Drug Addiction Not A Crime But A Deadly Disease

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Russell Brand is to address MPs over his drug addiction
Russell Brand is to address MPs over his drug addiction

Comedian Russell Brand is expected to tell MPs on Tuesday that drug addiction should not be seen as a crime or a romantic affectation, but as a disease that will kill.

The flamboyant film star has been asked to give evidence about his own battle with addiction to MPs reviewing the Government's drugs policy.

Brand has given frank accounts of his battle to overcome drug addiction and has said society needs to change the way it views addicts.

Writing on his website last July after the death of singer Amy Winehouse, Brand, 36, said addiction should be treated like a potentially fatal illness.

"Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death," he wrote.

"Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today.

"We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy's incredible talent. Or Kurt's (Cobain) or Jimi's (Hendrix) or Janis's (Joplin), some people just get the affliction.

"All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill."

Brand has also accused the media of being more interested in "tragedy than talent", saying they focused more on Winehouse's personal battles than her musical career.

He will be asked for his views on addiction when he appears before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee alongside Chip Somers, chief executive of the detox centre Focus 12, where he sought help with drug dependency.

Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, said Brand would be questioned "about his own experiences and about his latest project, a documentary of the nature of addiction and how it is viewed by society".

Mr Vaz said: "Hearing from those personally affected by drugs use is essential to our inquiry.

"I welcome Russell Brand's openness about his addiction and recovery. I hope that his experiences will help us understand the nature of addiction and the impact that it has on addicts and those around them."

The committee will also hear from opponents of drug liberalisation, including journalist Peter Hitchens, and Mary Brett, who campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers posed by cannabis use.

Mr Vaz added: "Drug education and treatment are widely accepted as being vital to preventing and tackling drug use and addiction, but there is still a great debate about how we deal with supply and just how effective a deterrent legislation is for those who take drugs."

Just half an hour after hearing Brand's evidence, the committee will quiz Home Secretary Theresa May on the confusion surrounding the Government's bid to deport terror suspect Abu Qatada to Jordan and the furore over the security of the UK's borders.

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Russell Brand to address MPs over drug addiction