Leave it to to Hamilton Morris to have a different take on ibogaine.
Now in Season 3, his Vice series Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia travels to West Africa to experience iboga, which grows like a shrub and has a fruit. The woody branches are pulverized and eaten. Morris takes a dose.
It looks like an ayahuasca session; different drug, different country, similar life-changing effects.
The episode begins with a focus on Tramadol, an opioid commonly used in Gabon and Cameroon. Addicted, Emcy seeks help and decides to attend an iboga session which lasts five days. Morris goes along for the ride. They fast, chew iboga (they call it wood), have their faces painted, listen to tribal music and go through intense detoxification. It looks like an ayahuasca session; different drug, different country, similar life-changing effects. Ency returns home with a new outlook and no drug cravings.
About the episode, Morris tells Double Blind:
“The use of iboga to treat opioid addiction in Central West Africa is something I don’t believe has ever been filmed before, which I find sort of ironic because most people in the U.S. exclusively know iboga as a treatment for heroin addiction, yet in the region where Bwiti is practiced they don’t use it for that despite the fact that they are facing new problems associated with Tramadol addiction…
“But the traditions are changing and now iboga is being used in Central West Africa to treat opioid addiction and that’s very exciting and something I wanted to capture for my documentary. I’ve always wanted to see that particular use of iboga and ibogaine introduced to people who’ve been using it for centuries, especially because there hasn’t been opioid dependence in that region until recently. Hospitals will have morphine, and that’s sort of a thing, but the heroin trade doesn’t go to Central West Africa; and the pharmaceutical opioids traditionally were too expensive or had not caught on culturally, so there is not a culture of opioid use in that region of the world. So people who are encountering it for the first time are in a uniquely vulnerable position for that region, whereas in the U.S., we grow up on a diet of horror stories about opioids.”
Morris, who’s father is Academy-Award winning documentarian Errol Morris, is the Anthony Bourdain for the adventure drug-travel set. He jets round the world in search of old and new highs.
For more about ibogaine, go here.
Season 3: Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia
Ep 6: Ultra LSD (2/8)