Detox or Die
By 2003, filmmaker David Graham Scott had been addicted to heroin and opiates for 20 years. To free himself of this lifetime of addiction, he decides to try a ‘quick fix’ and take the unlicensed drug, Ibogaine, that had been known to set users free from their addictions after enduring 36 hours of horrendous hallucinations. The treatment involved the risk of death.
At age 23, he had become a heroin addict along with is wife, Denise. He was devoted to the drug and found in it a sense of identity. In 1988, he split up with his wife and tried to put the addiction behind him, but it was not that easy. He sought medical help and doctors supplied him with the common medical treatment, which basically consisted in replacing an illegal drug with a legal one.
He then embarked on a project filming and interviewing addicts to try to find answers to his own deep-seated questions. H spent most of his time with these people. Having injected heroin himself, he knew exactly what their urge was about: the need to escape reality.
David joins the junkies as they search through piles of rubbish looking for goods to sell. The intention is to make some money in order to be able to buy a hit. He documents how a father and son team helps each other get high. The veins in the older man’s arms have collapsed and so his son shoots the drug into a vein in his father’s neck. When veins collapse, junkies start to shoot deep into the groin. Dirty needles can lead to complications such as gangrene and the amputation of limbs.
Although Graham decided to stick to his Methadone prescription, the more time he spent with them, the more his resolve weakened. Eventually he was offered a free hit, so he smoked a little heroin and it felt great. As a result, in March 1999 he became a junkie again, buying heroin on a regular basis, using up more than half his weekly wages. He could no longer be objective because he had again become one of them. However, he had a job and a girlfriend who knew nothing about his habit, contrary to his friends who had the full time job of looking for heroin.
Eventually he met a family of three living rough beside a train track. All three of them—mother, daughter and son—were addicts who had given up hope and lost interest in life.
Finally, David Graham Scott decided to contact somebody willing to administer Ibogaine; the legal but unlicensed drug said to stop heroin addiction in its tracks.
The filmmaker has made a follow-up documentary about Iboga’s role in the treatment of opiate addiction, Iboga Nights.