Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue - TOBY WISE­MAN BSME EDITOR OF THE YEAR

Rus­sell Brand is pos­si­bly the last per­son you’d ex­pect to be given a voice in a mag­a­zine like Men’s Health. Af­ter all, this is a man who took drugs ev­ery day for 11 years, no­to­ri­ously turned up for work the day af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks dressed as Osama bin Laden (pre­sum­ably be­cause he was on drugs) and has been ar­rested no less than 11 times (ditto). Granted, the man looks as though he has a low BMI, but even so, it takes a lit­tle more than that to breach our walls.

Thank­fully, he has a lit­tle more than that to of­fer. The idea that men’s health is a sub­ject that starts with big bi­ceps and ends with ripped abs is some­thing we have bat­tled for years, hence our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing men­tal health is­sues. What Rus­sell Brand brings to this par­tic­u­lar edi­tion is an ex­haus­tive and pro­found un­der­stand­ing of what it means to be felled by ad­dic­tion and how to stand back up again. Cru­cially, he re­pu­di­ates the idea that ad­dic­tion starts with co­caine and ends with the crack pipe. It is po­ten­tially there in all of us.

Cer­tainly read­ing Brand’s es­say I can see it in my­self. When he talks of ad­dic­tion be­ing, “when nat­u­ral im­per­a­tives, such as the need for food, sex, re­lax­ation or sta­tus, be­come pri­ori­tised to the point of de­struc­tive­ness,” then I don’t think about drug binges or sex par­ties, but in­stead the way in which I have oc­ca­sion­ally let my ca­reer dom­i­nate my life at the ex­pense of friends and fam­ily. When he says that, “we live in an age when ad­dic­tive think­ing has be­come to­tally im­mer­sive,” I iden­tify with it – not be­cause I’ve ever stuck a nee­dle in my arm, but rather be­cause I can recog­nise how I jus­tify, er­ro­neously, work and wine and late nights and with­drawn behaviour by equat­ing it with white-col­lar mar­tyr­dom.

The re­al­i­sa­tion that ad­dic­tion is a pre­car­i­ous men­tal state that can just as likely af­fect the man in the cor­ner of­fice as the res­i­dent of the gut­ter can be con­found­ing, up­set­ting, but ul­ti­mately lib­er­at­ing. I am not an ad­dict, but nei­ther am I com­pletely straight – Rus­sell Brand has taught me that. Give him a chance. Ap­pear­ances can be de­ceiv­ing. You only have to look in the mir­ror to know that.

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