A WEARSIDE MP today paid tribute to comedian Russell Brand after he spoke about his battle against addiction at a parliamentary inquiry into drugs policy.
Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, was on the Home Affairs Select Committee which heard the star’s warning that addiction should not be seen as a crime or romanticised.
He appeared alongside Chip Somers, the boss of detox centre Focus12, where the former heroin addict once sought help.
Ms Phillipson said: “Drug use can blight communities, break up families and is a serious contributor to crime and antisocial behaviour.
“That’s why the Home Affairs Committee took evidence from Chip Somers and Russell Brand, to investigate whether the Government’s drug strategy is working.
“Russell Brand gave his evidence in an entertaining way, but he made some serious points about his personal recovery from addiction.
“This is a detailed inquiry that will continue for months to come.”
The 36-year-old was questioned about his own experiences and his latest project, a documentary about drug addiction.
Brand, who recently separated from his singer wife Katy Perry, has spoken frankly about his addictions to heroin and alcohol in the past and has also written two autobiographies.
After the death of singer Amy Winehouse last July, he said the condition should be treated like a potentially-fatal illness.
Brand, who removed a wide-brimmed hat and long black coat after arriving in the committee room to reveal gold chains and a black vest, accepted that addicts had an antisocial impact upon society and that the challenge was to re-integrate them.
He rejected the analogy of “carrot and stick”, calling instead for “love and compassion”.
“We don’t want to discard people, we want to bring them into society and neutralise the toxic social threat they offer as addicts,” he said.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is reviewing the government’s drug policy.