Russell Brand tells Oprah his addictions started as a child: 'I was very lonely and confused'

The comedian is interviewed by Oprah about how his drug and alcohol problems originated in his formative years

Brand told Oprah that his personal battle with drink and alcohol stemmed from childhood when he felt “unhappy, lonely and a bit sad”.

In an interview with the American talk show host, he said that first he developed “problems with food” and used to eat chocolate “compulsively”. Next he became “infatuated with pornography”, before discovering drugs.

The show is part of Oprah's new television series, which premiered in the UK on TLC last night and continues every Thursday throughout May.

“I don't know if it's to do with my personal circumstance, a single mum and feeling like we didn't have a lot of money,” he said. “I felt alienated and unhappy. For me, I couldn't cope with being me.”

He attributes his drug and drink issues as a way of coping with “external things”. He has been sober for 11 years.

“I look to solve inner problems with external things,” he explained. ”I'll use anything to stop myself feeling, and as a little kid I was very lonely and confused.

“Anything that could temporarily relieve that, I was very grateful for. When you take drugs out of the equation, those issues remain."

As the interview continued, he once again called for a change in how drug and alcohol addiction is addressed –specifically in relation to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The comedian was presented with a clip from 2006 in which Hoffman talks openly about his battle with drugs and why he decided to stop taking them. The 46-year-old actor died on February 2, after a drug overdose.

“What’s interesting is that when you see Philip Seymour Hoffman there he looks so together, so cool, like a person whose put it behind him,” said Brand.

“But what I noticed is that when they talk about drugs, his eyes lit up. He still remembers it, it’s still got him. He’s still got a connection to it. So it’s not just this negative, destructive thing, there’s part of you that thinks, ‘That worked, that worked for a while.’”

He reaffirmed his belief that addiction is a medical condition and must be treated as such, especially in explaining the unexpected death of Hoffman – who had been sober for 23 years before his fatal relapse this year.

The Truman Capote star is just one high-profile name to have lost his life to drug issues this year – yesterday an inquest heard that heroin was likely to have contributed to the death of 25-year-old Peaches Geldof, who died on 7 April.

“The reason I can’t have drugs or drink today is because I know that I can’t manage it,” Brand continued. “As a drug addict, you have to accept that you can never have drink or drugs again.

“If anything positive can come of the death of Philip Seymour, it’s that. His death doesn’t make sense unless you accept that addiction is an illness. It doesn’t make sense any other way. Otherwise, you think ‘hang on a minute why he’d do that?’”

Brand has voiced his views on Hoffman’s untimely death before in February – describing his passing as “inevitable”. He has previously pleaded to the United Nations and to the British government to change prohibitive drug laws, which he believes only lead to “death, suffering and crime”.

“Addiction is a mental illness around which there is a great deal of confusion, which is hugely exacerbated by the laws that criminalise drug addicts,” he wrote.

“If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.”

Read more: What Brand told the UN about the ban of drugs
Brand accused of homophobic slur
Brand calls David Cameron a posh "w****r"
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker