Russell Brand to Open Non-Profit, Free Rehab Center in California

Actor and comedian Russell Brand is giving back to his community and reaching out to those suffering from addiction – something he himself struggled with and overcome.

Brand is launching a non-profit project called Freehab, a no-cost, 12-step drug rehabilitation program co-founded with Lauri Burns, who founded The Teen Project, according to a report by

Brand explained an important part of his own recovery is “awareness of other people suffering from this disease, the symptoms of which are obvious on our streets.”

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 in approval of the Community Development Block Grant funds of $500,000 go to the non-profit where Brand and Burns plan to renovate and expand an 88-bed facility in Sun Valley, Calif., formerly run by People in Progress, a nonprofit that went bankrupt last year, according to City News Service. Freehab also has satellite locations in Skid Row and Hollywood, operating on mostly private donations and corporate and foundation funding.

In a CBS Los Angeles report, Brand said while there are “ugly aspects to addiction,” there is also the potential for people who have been a “terrible detriment to society” to change.

“When I spent some time in downtown Los Angeles, I was astonished by the degree and severity of homelessness in our community,” Brand said in the CBS report. “Now I know, for myself, for me, it’s astonishing that we’ve learned to acclimate to this extreme condition of people who are the same as us being cast aside.”

The treatment facility will serve approximately 200 substance abuse patients and plans to open in October 2013, the report stated.