Russell Brand: Addiction stems from spiritual and emotional pain

Putting the focus of addiction on substances, rather than the reasons people use substances, is a waste of time, Russell Brand has said.

The comedian and campaigner recently posted a Trews special on addiction – not just to drugs, but sex, food, gambling and everything else – on the week of the 14th anniversary of his sobriety.

Russell said addiction comes from trying to deal with “spiritual pain, emotional pain”.

The 41-year-old laid blame for the addiction epidemic in the hands of capitalism’s need for massive consumption, which he said Marxist theory says leads to “alienation and despair”.

“People who take drugs and drink to excess are trying to deal with a spiritual pain, emotional pain” which he said is “deeply exacerbated by the materialistic conditions we live in – living in a world where you think problems can be solved by consuming something”.

The former addict, who described addiction as “a disease that affects all strata of society” but is harsher on the poor, took the conversation back to where the war on drugs started from – a push to stop African Americans and anti-war activists from progressing.

Russell says the “conditions that create addiction are getting worse and worse”, with drug deaths in England and Wales reaching record levels last year.

And for the new father, even though he outlines ways for individuals to treat addiction, as a society it will continue plaguing us until there are systemic changes.

“In a way, addiction is just the extreme conclusion and natural end point to a culture that tells you all of your problems can be resolved by purchasing, acquiring, and consuming.”

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