Russell Brand discusses drugs and addiction at Stoke Newington School

Russell Brand visited students at a Stoke Newington school to talk about drugs and addiction earlier this month.

The actor and comedian did a question and answer session with 20 pupils in years 10, 11 and sixth form at Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form: Media Arts and Science College on May 11.

His visit was part of a BBC documentary on drugs and addiction, due to be broadcast on the anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death on July 23.

Life Skills Head, Mary Ann Apkar, said: “They talked about his life and his addiction, how he dealt with it, how he had to take his life day by day and about the power that an addiction can have and also about having lost people to it.

“The students were very open with him,” she said. “But we had briefed them and I think he was a little disappointed that he wasn’t able to ask them about personal drug use.

“I think it was really useful. He was very inspiring and he talked about how hard it was and how low he had to go before he wanted help.”

Mr Brand, who has battled with addiction himself, charmed staff and pupils alike.

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Ms Apkar added: “If they weren’t fans of his before then they are now. He was absolutely charming and charismatic. He was very interested to listen to the children’s opinions and they were very pleased with the way he reflected the things they said.

“He was endlessly patient and he stopped time and time again for pictures. We had to encourage him to leave in the end. Even when he was going out of the gates he stopped to do more autographs.”

A patron of drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity Focus 12, Mr Brand recently presented evidence to the Commons Home Office Select Committee on Drugs and argued for the compassionate treatment of drug addiction as an illness rather than a crime.