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VICE Episode 07: Addiction – A Review

By Jef Dinsmore on May 18, 2013 to Vice


That is poor Thomas all wrapped up.

That is poor Thomas all wrapped up.

Overview: First destination this episode is to TOBACCOLAND.  The dangers of smoking are no secret in the U.S., but in Indonesia, the tobacco industry is virtually unregulated. What is the result? Over two-thirds of all men are smokers, and it is commonplace for children as young as six to take up the habit. Tobacco is a $100 billion industry here, with TV and print ads everywhere. Investigating this phenomenon in Malang, VICE visits a clinic that promises cures to a plethora of modern ailments through tobacco and smoking – with our intrepid correspondent getting the full smoke-therapy treatment.

The second segment is UNDERGROUND HEROIN CLINIC. Heroin is the most addictive drug on earth, and some people will do anything to kick the habit. Enter Ibogaine – a drug made out of the African Iboga root, whose intense, hallucinogenic properties make it a Type-A felony drug. But many swear it’s the most effective way to kick heroin addiction – especially when combined with a voodoo-type ritual that involves face paint and chanting. VICE follows the journey of a heroin addict who


Shane and Matt

Expectations: This is going to be whacked, if you know what I mean. Just looking at the preview of this “Addiction” episode made me wonder anew of what people are doing to themselves for better or worse. In TOBACCOLAND  we will witness a cultural standard that is simply not the norm here. But what is this “medical clinic” about? That is the part of this segment that interests me most. As for the UNDERGROUND HEROIN CLINIC story well, I am less engaged in that one. I have seen many an addiction and the road to detox stories before. HBO’s AMERICA UNDERCOVER series had covered those journeys quite well. This particular piece though does add a new “remedy” into the mix. If nothing else I should learn about IboGaine.

Gut Reaction: Tobaccoland reported by correspondent Thomas Morton. Hell, it was like my mind was on drugs watching this. My mind was bouncing around from idea to idea quicker than I could handle. Four main thoughts settled in my cranium at different points and before I knew it the segment was over.

First, quick to mind was the imagery of youth smoking as we saw the one lad buy his cigarettes before school and caught up with him as he and friends smoked them afterwards. Unhealthy for sure but there, in the Philippines, no one gives a damn. It was bit more alarming to see 6-year olds smoking as opposed to the 12 year-olds for some reason.  But that imagery lost its impact when the next thought wafted in which was one settling in on the fact that different cultures have different customs, values etc. It is a shame but it is unstoppable.

VICE_SmokingkidIre came to the forefront of my frontal lobe when the Philip Morris executive appeared. Yes, ire as he slyly worded himself around the issue. “Hey, the market is declining in the U.S. let’s just gravitate to the healthier markets across the globe and cash in. We’ve got to go where the markets are good for the shareholders.” Corporate greed at the expense of others – got to love it! By then, I focused on the “medical clinics” portion. They are treating all sorts of ills, including body acne, with tobacco smoke and “special” nicotine concoctions.

Thomas Morton seems to be the guinea pig for VICE, doesn’t he? Poor dude. The final thought racing by was just over the surprising lack of scientific logic over the use of nicotine. Treating cancer with something that can cause cancer; what a novel idea. How could anybody think that?

That left me mentally fatigued and I haven’t even seen segment two which was Underground Heroin Clinic reported by correspondent Ryan Duffy. This started as a typical addiction story but when you add Voodoo rituals and a “miracle” drug as cure it kind of got my mind racing again. At least I wasn’t sweating and cradling a vomit bucket.

I think the intent of the piece was to question whether Ibogaine, the “miracle” drug that can cure heroin addiction, should be considered a legitimate drug VICE_ClinicRitualhere in the U.S. if it does such wonders. But, that is not what I got out of the segment. My mind was reeling about the need for useful plant by-products that are still untapped and about how we shouldn’t knock alternative health remedies….. and then I caught myself.

Why did I think it alright to let people get excited over some tribal juju if it was going to help them but not okay with a doctor blowing tobacco smoke into someone’s ear? In both instances the people involved were patients wanting a healthier result even if the result was more psychological in nature than medical. Matt and another addict Nicole are desperate enough to want to engage in the treatment. Just when my mind was going to explode over it all heroin addict, Matt, arrives on the other side of his detoxification seemingly cured. What the fuck, no kidding? So, maybe, we shouldn’t knock this treatment? Maybe, legal controlled Ibogaine trials should happen in the U.S.? It can’t hurt, can it? Well, yes it can more far more than just heaving in a bucket. But, if people like Matt are willing to take the risk, then why not.

My last thought as this one ends – What happened to Nicole?

In Conclusion: Episode 07 Addiction was a good installment in the end. I wasn’t sure it was going to be but silly of me to doubt. I guess you can say I am addicted to VICE.

Here is The Morning After with Fareed Zakaria. Peace.

  • Jef Dinsmore

    That was an amazing story.

  • JIm

    I loved this episode of Vice. Dmitri seems like such a cool guy. I had a friend that got back from an Ibogaine treatment center in Baja. His experience was great, and he’s still clean from opiates after 6 months. The place he went ws called

  • Jef Dinsmore

    The thing about the “tobacco clinics” is that the rest of the world sees the danger of the product; why can’t Indonesia see it. It is baffling.

    • This episode was very, very chilling. It’s hard to believe that some people can be so deluded when the truth is already out there!

      I suppose your point about the danger of the product can apply to the US gun controversy too! The rest of the world sees the danger of the product, why can’t the US? An interesting comparison…

  • I too, am addicted to this show! The tobacco story was scary and it was painful to watch Thomas undergo those treatments. He’s way too dedicated! The Ibogaine segment was fascinating, but also a bit scary. However, as we see Matt come out “cured,” it leaves me with a feeling that was a bit less horrified than the tobacco “cures.” A very interesting episode indeed, and the conflict in my head about is either treatment “right,” as long as the participants are willing and believe in the cure, still rages on. Good stuff, as always!

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