Russell Brand is taking a stand on behalf of his fellow addicts.
The comedian and former heroin user went before the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee today and offered up testimony as to why he believes substance abusers should get treatment, not be sent to prison.
Here’s what he had to say.
Per U.K. reports, the 36-year-old Brand—speaking as someone who had been arrested “roughly” 12 times during his own struggle with drugs—testified that treating addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one was a “brilliant idea.”
“It is something I consider to be an illness, and therefore more of a health matter than a criminal or judicial matter. It is more important that we regard people suffering from addiction with compassion and there is a pragmatic rather than a symbolic approach to treating it,” he told the committee.
Brand continued: “Addicts who get clean one day at a time through abstinence-based recovery generally stop committing crime. That’s better for victims, that’s better for the addicts, that’s better for society.”
In one of his most eloquent moments before parliamentarians, the Get Him to the Greek star even quoted from the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
“As the great Tupac Shakur said, ‘Role is something people play, model is something people make. Both of those things are fake,’ ” he said. “What I want to offer people is truth and authenticity in the treatment of this illness, in our regards to the criminal components of it, in assisting victims and in the way we legislate and organize our society.”
However, the English-born Brand backed away from advocating total drug legalization, noting addicts care little about whether the substances they use are legal or not.