Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

How Did Russell Brand Become an Addiction Expert?

Recovery and sex addict expert Russell Brand's marriage barely makes a year

The wedding of a couple steeped in self and recovery knowledge
One headline that greeted us for the new year was this one in the NY Daily News: "Sex addict divorces sex symbol."

After a devoted 14 months of marriage, comedian and recovering sex and drug addict Russell Brand announced his divorce from sex symbol Katy Perry. 

Perry carried her own baggage -- a popular singer who features her big boobs (a subject I have studied intently) -- Perry actually came from a strict, religious family that, she says, denied her a childhood and never approved of her. 

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But Perry had learned from this experience:

"I come from a very non-accepting family, but I'm very accepting.  Russell is into Hinduism, and I'm not [really] involved in it. He meditates in the morning and the evening; I'm starting to do it more because it really centers me. [But] I just let him be him, and he lets me be me."

As indicated by his Buddhist beliefs and meditation, Brand had come to a deep understanding of himself.  The 36-year-old has detailed his decade-long 12-step recovery from sex and drug addiction in two books and numerous interviews.

"Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death. I was 27 years old when through the friendship and help of Chip Somers of the treatment centre, Focus12, I found recovery."

Brand has since been actively involved with 12-step groups.  Surely, this recovery experience has provided a man at an age when many average people are parents with a deep and intimate knowledge of himself and others?  Brand often dispenses advice -- he described in US Weekly how he saw into the soul of Amy Winehouse, whom he had known since he came out of rehab at age 27:

"All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they're not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50 pence for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his 'speedboat,' there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they're looking through you to somewhere else they'd rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anesthetize the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief."

Although Brand and rehab couldn't help Winehouse, immediately after her death, Brand published a moving tribute to Winehouse at his Web site, called a "must-read" by the entertainment magazines:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they've had enough, that they're ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it's too late, she's gone.

Brand wasn't done with his tributes to the dead singer -- he paid an additional homage to Winehouse at last year's VMA awards.

So how is it that a man so expert in addiction, who has deeply explored his own inner workings over the years since he achieved his hard-fought sobriety, including especially his attention to his sex addiction, a man whose unconventional approach to life didn't require that he marry when he becomes intimately involved with a woman, took vows of eternal love that barely lasted a year?

I just don't understand what possibly could have gone wrong.

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P.S.  Later today, I figured out the answer -- 10 years after entering recovery, Brand knows f-all about himself, other people, and addiction!

Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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