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David Graham Scott, 2014
If you knew about a substance that could break the cycle of drug addiction, would you want to keep quiet about it?
In 2004 I made a documentary for the BBCs One Life strand called Detox or Die. It was a personal story that dealt with my heroin/methadone addiction and my attempt to quit this long-term habit. My way forward involved a gruelling 36-hour hallucinogenic trip with the radical, unlicensed, detox agent called ibogaine (aka iboga in its more raw state). It wasn't a particularly pleasant experience but I found the drug virtually killed off all my withdrawal symptoms overnight. Ive been free of addiction ever since...some feat after 15 years of opiate dependence.
I was overwhelmed at the reaction to Detox or Die. I've collected many personal testimonials of former drug addicts who have successfully quit after watching the film. I frequently receive letters, emails and Facebook posts from people eager to emulate my journey. Iboga Nights is my mission to further explore the underground ibogaine scene through the network of treatment providers that exist. It is a journey in which I go from Glasgow to London and Holland following the stories of addicts who take ibogaine and the providers who work with this unlicensed and extremely potent drug. I gained unprecedented access to both the practitioners and the addicts seeking help and I believe this film will shed light on and ask questions of this little-known and unlicensed drug. Several key before-and-after stories play out within the film.
In Amsterdam we meet Sara Mama Iboga - the most experienced and respected ibogaine practitioner in Europe. She has been treating addicts in the spare room of the family home in a respectable suburb of Amsterdam for 15 years. Two long-term heroin addicts, Ian and Paul make the journey from Glasgow to Amsterdam to undergo care in Saras home. This Ibogaine treatment session takes a turn for the worse when Ian has a seizure and is rushed to hospital.
But for every failed treatment there are several success stories. Eleanor beat her heavy morphine and diazepam addiction after just one iboga session. Shes now gone on to be global supporter of iboga herself!
Some call it a cure for drug addiction. While this may be a bit exaggerated it certainly has been effective as an addiction interrupter and there are many testimonials, including my own, which serve to support this. Nevertheless, I'm left questioning the efficacy and safety of iboga, especially after Sara is jailed on a manslaughter charge after a client tragically dies after a treatment.
The tension really hits a high though when I visit a young man doing a self-treatment with iboga. Sid needs to quit a life-threatening pill injecting habit and iboga may be the answer. Its a gruellingly long night sitting with Sid as he takes the capsules. Whether I like it or not I'm involved with this guy's treatment session and have to take responsibility if it goes wrong.
Iboga Nights is a director/narrative led, self-shot documentary. Included will be expert scientific analysis of the potential benefits or pitfalls of such a controversial therapy through the research evaluations of Dr Ben Sessa and various others. It is an inspiring film journey that asks serious questions about drug addiction, its treatment in the UK and just how viable the alternative routes are.
David Graham Scott Nov 2013
Coming soon ...