Russell Brand: Abstinence is best way to get drug-free

Ex-drug addict Russell Brand has backed abstinence as the best way to get people off drugs and criticised the use of the heroin substitute methadone.

But he also appears to favour the decriminalisation of drugs because he says drug addiction is a “health issue rather than a criminal issue”.

The comedian-turned-actor said: “We might as well let people carry on taking drugs if they’re going to be on methadone”.


Mr Brand, who used to be addicted to heroin, has made a BBC 3 documentary about the issue which will be screened on Thursday.

In his documentary he says giving addicts methadone is just like “rearranging the furniture on the Titanic”.

Mr Brand became clean through a charity called Focus 12 – a group which aims to “get people off drink and drugs completely so that they are able to remain abstinent and enjoy a much improved quality of life”.

The ex-addict told the Observer that without abstinence-based recovery he would not be able to have “a chance of living free from this disease”.


He does say that it is a “health issue rather than a criminal issue” and believes that while decriminalisation of drugs is not a “central tenet”, it is “important”.

In August 2010 the Government said a “new approach” was needed on drug abuse, which focuses on helping addicts to get completely drug-free.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire set out the strategy, and also said that methadone would be used less widely than previously.

In 2010 a former drug addict told a newspaper that methadone is “almost more of a poison than heroin, there doesn’t ever seem to be an end to it”.